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MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2010

Definitions The following terms are used throughout this report:

Fully online

This is a course that has been approved by the Cosumnes River College Curriculum Committee for distance education delivery in the online modality. There is no college- wide requirement for on-campus orientations, testing, or other meetings.

Successful Unsuccessful

This is a final grade for a course of A, B, C, or CR (credit).

This is a final grade for a course of D, F, NC (no credit), I (incomplete), and W (withdrawal, which is a student dropping a class after the drop deadline during a semester).

Subjects Historical Data

The subjects of this study are students who enrolled in fully online classes at Cosumnes

from fall 2003 to fall 2005. relationship to Online Student

This group was


into four

Success (OSS).

Table 1

shows the

subgroups, each being count of each group:

River College defined by its

Table 1: Online Students by Relationship to OSS





OSS Successful


OSS Unsuccessful


OSS Drop


Students who never enrolled in OSS make up the “No OSS” group. They are the comparison group for

the first passed

hypothesis of



this project. Members of who did not pass OSS

"OSS Successful" are the people who





differentiated between the students who completed some of the work and those who did not

enrolled and group is not do any of the

class assignments. In other words, a student who enrolled complete any assignments, or attend the orientation did not

in the class but did not contact the instructor, succeed in the class. Finally, the "OSS Drop"

students were enrolled in the class but dropped before the record of this class. Like the second group, there is no some work and those who did none.

drop deadline and so do not have a transcript distinction between students who completed

Though some group sizes are small, the demographic comparison revealed in Table 2 is interesting. The percentage of women was higher among the students with a transcript record of OSS, though women were a majority of all four groups. Among all the groups except the OSS Unsuccessful, white students constituted the largest ethnic group. African American students were the largest ethnic group among the OSS Unsuccessful.

All four groups share a similar age distribution, with the largest group being those students who are in the traditional college age group (fewer than 25 years old). The greatest demographic disparity between No OSS students and those who have some involvement with the class has to with residence. For all three OSS-related groups, a majority of the students live near campus (within the campus ZIP code or an adjacent ZIP code). For the No OSS students the opposite was true: a minority of them lived nearby.

This is shown in Table 3. The stated educational goals for each group of students appear in Table 4.

For all four groups, an

academic plan that included a transfer to a four-year college was by far the most commonly identified educational goal. The OSS Successful group was more likely to be undecided than the other three groups.

The popularity of transfer is also reflected in the transfer status of the courses selected by students, as shown in Tables 5 and 6. Table 5 presents the number of transfer-level course sections offered during the study period. Table 6 shows that three of the four groups enrolled in transfer-level courses at a rate


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