Comparison of Online and Face-To-Face Math Courses: Learning in the Goldilocks Zone
AuthorSwanson, Danielle C.
AdvisorQuinn, Robert J.
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As online classes grow in popularity, questions such as “are face-to-face classes still the most appropriate way for students to learn what is required for a course in school?” and “what do students feel is the best way to learn the content that is required for a class?” arise. To address these questions in terms of how high school students perceive online and face-to-face math courses, data were gathered from high schools in a medium sized school district in a western state. The data gathered were analyzed using statistical tests and were categorized in order to identify emergent themes. Sixty-two students elected to participate in the study by taking a survey that questioned them about their perceptions of online and face-to-face math courses as well as academic information about online and face-to-face math classes or tests they had taken. After the data gathered were analyzed, multiple differences of how students perceive face-to-face or online math courses were found to be statistically significant and themes emerged through the qualitative data that revealed insights into how students perceive online and face-toface math courses they have taken. Online courses and face-to-face courses were compared to each other both in general and in terms of gender and how much students generally enjoy math. Students generally preferred face-to-face courses in terms of pleasantness, ease of communication, and appropriate level of challenge, but preferred online courses in terms of flexibility and pacing. Based on the data gathered from this research it is advisable from this researcher’s point of view to further develop online courses in terms of pleasantness, ease of communication, appropriate levels of challenge, and aspects of pacing. It is also advisable that face-to-face courses should be improved in terms of flexibility and pacing. Until online courses are received 1 as well as, or better than, face-to-face courses and more information is available regarding the effect of online courses on the long-term academic success of students, the data suggest that face-to-face courses should continue to play a dominant role in math education at the high school level despite the growing popularity of online courses. 2