MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching
Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2010
account, a test with 18 questions. (A "test" in Blackboard allows the instructor to see how each student answered each question, whereas a "survey" is anonymous within the course account. For this project, a test was used so that respondents could be placed within their appropriate OSS group for analysis.) Four of the questions were multiple-answer, 11 were multiple choice, and three were open-ended essay questions. The multiple-choice and multiple-answer questions prompted students to provide information about the number of online classes they had taken prior to enrolling in OSS, the number since, and where they had taken those classes. The questions also asked students to judge the effectiveness of OSS at preparing them for their online learning experiences. The essay questions gave students an opportunity to provide information not covered elsewhere and comments about their experiences in OSS. The survey questions are available in appendix B. Students were contacted via e-mail, and the class and test were available from 17 November 2005 to 9 December 2005.
Data Analysis Historical Data
The college researcher provided the data files in Microsoft Excel format, so that software was used for the analysis. A pivot table was created to isolate particular characteristics (gender, age, grade, etc.). As each attribute was quantified, it was recorded on the spreadsheet and then Excel was used to create the data tables in this report. The success rate was calculated by summing the number of grades that were A, B, C, or CR (credit) and dividing by the total number of grades received.
As students completed the online survey, their answers were recorded on the gradebook inside the course account. The instrument was not anonymous, so the student identification number could be used to connect a set of answers to the student's performance in OSS and the student's demographic data from the historical dataset. Excel was used to aggregate the answers to multiple-choice and multiple- answer questions. The respondents were divided into the three groups of OSS students so their answers could be grouped separately. The answers to essay questions were collated in a text file for review.
Results Historical Data
The first part of this project's hypothesis concerned the online success rate of students who have taken Online Student Success (OSS) compared to the online success rate of other students. Table 10 shows the academic performance data for each group of students and their success rate in online classes from fall 2003 to spring 2005. For students associated with OSS, the data reflect online grades earned concurrently with and after their enrollment in OSS. Compared to students who did not take OSS, the OSS Successful students had a higher success rate in their online classes overall. OSS Unsuccessful and OSS Drop students had a lower success rate in their online classes overall.
Table 10: Online Academic Performance by Research Group
The second hypothesis for this project was that the students who succeeded in OSS would have a higher online success rate after taking OSS than they did before enrolling in it. Table 11 displays the success rates for online classes before and after taking OSS for the OSS Successful group. Though only 11 students took online classes before and after enrolling in OSS, the improvement in their success rate is dramatic.