Who Succeeds in Distance Learning? Evidence from Quantile Panel Data Estimation
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This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the distributional effects of distance learning (DL) on academic success, as measured by course grades and completion. Using data of over 1.2 million courses taken by about 200,000 U.S. Navy sailor‐students at more than 1800 U.S. institutions during 1994–2007, we find that distance delivery of education is associated with poorer outcomes. At the mean, DL delivery is associated with 0.19 lower course grade points; however, the mean effect masks the more pronounced negative effects of DL in the bottom two‐thirds of the distribution—where DL lowers grades by as much as 0.8 points. Using variation only among marginal students—those who tend to fail some of the courses that they take, our estimates indicate traditional face‐to‐face delivery is associated with 2.4 times greater likelihood of successful course completion than if it was delivered distant. These findings suggest that targeting DL courses to certain students may be more cost‐effective.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/soej.12264
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