Navarro, Peter, Shoemaker, Judy (2000). Performance and Perceptions of Distance Learners in Cyberspace. The American Journal of Distance Education, 14(2), 15-35
Principle: The study look at the academic achievement and attitude of traditional learners verses cyberlearners.
Design: The study is a quasi-experimental design using a static group comparison.
This study was conducted at the University of California where 200 students enrolled in an introductory macroeconomics course and self-selected into two groups. One group took the class as an Internet course and the other group in the traditional method. There were 49 students who chose to take the class over the Internet while the remaining 151 took the class with traditional teaching methods. Among the cyberlearners 46 finished the study and 89 traditional students completed the study.
Independent Variables: The independent variable is the experimental group taking the class via the Internet instead of the most common method of instruction.
Dependent Variables: The dependent variables are the performance and perception of on-line students compared with the students in the classroom.
Procedures: There were two evaluation tools used. The first evaluation was in the form of an exam and was administered to both groups. All students took, part or all of, a two part attitudinal survey. Part A dealt with demographics as well as how the students felt about the course and was taken by all students. Part B was only administer to cyberlearners and consisted of questions relating to evaluation of the instructional technologies.
Results: On the final exam the cyberlearners scored significantly better then the traditional learners. A two-way analysis-of-variance test was used analyzed by gender, ethnicity, or class level. The final exam was scored and the mean score calculated with a t-test. The attitudinal survey was analyzed using a Chi-square test and showed that there was no significant difference between the two groups. Cyberlearners were asked, in a multiple choice format about the reason they took the class online. Forty-four percent of the students responded that is was due to convenience.
Factors Jeopardizing Internal Validity: A chi-square test of independence failed show any difference in the two groups are far as gender, ethnicity, or test scores but the study fails to tell the make up of the two groups.
Factors Jeopardizing External Validity: This study was conducted in one department at the University of California with and introduction class.
Design Improvement: This study would be greatly improved if they used a more realistic setting. The students who were taking the course on-line were closely monitored. The researcher had the on-line students take weekly test to ensure they were keeping up with the readings. Internet courses, in my experience, depend on the person being self motivate not monitored.
Extension of the Study: The study could be tried with randomly assigning students to each group.
Comments: I am interested in this study because I see many new teachers come in to DISD with extremely limited computer knowledge. The study indicated that the greatest impact on computer usage was whether or not the supervising teacher valued computers as an effective teaching tool.