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MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2010

Successful Grades

Total Grades

Success Rate (Successful Grades / Total Grades

11 18

29 23

38% 78%

Table 11: Online Academic Performance Before and After Passing OSS (n = 11) (Only students who took online classes before and after enrolling in OSS are included in this table.)

Grades before OSS Grades after OSS

This includes online classes taken concurrently with OSS.

Follow-up Survey

Survey respondents from all three OSS groups (OSS Successful, OSS Unsuccessful, OSS Drop) expressed appreciation for the additional preparation the course gave them for learning online. One question asked if students agreed that the class helped them to succeed in future online classes. Among the 14 OSS Successful participants, 13 either agreed or strongly agreed. Interestingly, all three OSS Unsuccessful respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with this statement. Three of the four OSS Drop participants either agreed or strongly agreed.

Other questions were more specific and asked how helpful the class was in preparing students for typical tasks in online classes. All of the OSS Successful participants said the class was very helpful or helpful in preparing them to using discussion boards, three of the four OSS Drops felt the same way, and all of the OSS Unsuccessful students agreed. Every respondent said that the class was helpful or very helpful in preparing them to take tests online. Finally, the same reply was given (very helpful or helpful) by everyone when asked if the class prepared them to conduct research online.

The open response questions give students the opportunity to express in their own words some of the key findings revealed by the data. One student said:

"I would take an online class again because I learned a lot from our OSS class. It gave me the confidence to take future online classes."

Another wrote:

"I know that if had not taken the OSS course I would have dropped out of all of my online (and other distance learning) courses."

The most succinct response was one to the question that asked how OSS affected their decisions to enroll in other online classes:

"I want all of my classes to be online." Detailed survey results are in appendix C Summary and Conclusions

The strongest implication of this study is that students who intend to enroll in an online course should be encouraged to take an online student success course. This study suggests that, if they pass Online Student Success (OSS), it is likely they will be more successful in their online course attempts. This is best shown by the dramatic improvement in success rate for those students who took online classes before and after taking OSS. Students who did not take online classes before OSS also show a higher online success rate than students who have no enrollment relationship with OSS.

A second implication for the classroom is that students benefit from preparation for the online learning modality. Survey data from all OSS groups reveal their increased comfort with this environment after taking the class, and this testimony corroborates the increased success rates found in the historical data. If students feel that OSS prepares them for online learning, it follows that their academic performance will

be better in online classes. However, there are students who are successful online without taking OSS.

They do not need the

intervention in their online learning skills, so a third implication for the classroom is that OSS should be targeted at those students who need it. The risk is acute for those students who explore online learning


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