Virtual School Meanderings

April 1, 2010

SITE 2010: Course Completion And Participation Patterns At Utah’s Electronic High School

SITEThe second full paper in this Virtual Schooling SIG session here at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) conference is described as:

Course completion and participation patterns at Utah’s Electronic High School

Abigail Hawkins, Brigham Young University, USA
Charles Graham, Brigham Young University, USA

This study examined course completion and participation patterns of student enrollments at Utah’s Electronic High School from 2005-2008. Using descriptive statistics, researchers found that while completion rates and times to completion were inversely related to the age of the program. Certain disciplines had higher completion rates as well as numbers of students who engaged in the course compared to other disciplines. Researchers found bimodal grade distribution with most students who completed the course receiving an A/A- and a larger number not completing the course.. A high percentage of students never participated in the course and participation rates varied based on discipline. Implications of the findings are discussed as well as areas for future research.

Much of the introduction material was similar given that the study was in the same environment.  The research questions for this study was:

  1. How do compeltion rates compare over time and across disciplines?
  2. How does students’ time to completion vary over time and across disciplines?

These questions were address using data from 85,297 enrollments from 2005 to 2008.

The focused material on this study began with a consideration of who these non-starters are.  The old view was that these students were lazy or academically incapable.  Abby presented an alternate view that these students were a little more savvy, in that they actively look at the content and make conscious decisions

There was a slide on completion rates by discipline:

Financial Literacy ~50%
Health/PE ~40%
Driver’s Ed ~40%
Social Studies ~20%
Electives/Career ~20%
Math ~15%

Note that I missed the last few disciplines.

When you look at the non-starters per discipline, it showed:

Mathematics >65%
Language Arts ~60%
World Language ~55%
Fine Arts >50%
Computer Science >50%
Social Studies <50%
Science ~45%
Health/PE <40%
Electives/Career ~35%
Financial Literacy <30%
Driver’s Education ~25%

There were a lot of data slides that I missed, but one of the courses that Abby and Charles drilled down on was the Calculus Course – which was the only mathematics that had 0% completion.  When you looked at the data for the course, the vast majority of students logged into the course during the first three days after enrollment and then never logged into the course again.  She showed a couple of other courses, like freshman English, where again the majority of non-completers gave up logging into the system after the first week of enrollment.

One of the interesting things that both Abby and Charles were advocating was opening up access to the courses.  Both of them argued that this would allow those students that fell into that “savvy” category that Abby described above to determine whether or not they wanted to take the course and if it was really for them.

1 Comment »

  1. […] with some of the same background that she started her presentations yesterday with (see here and here).  After discussing some of the methodological issues with current K-12 online learning research, […]

    Pingback by SITE 2010: A Comparison Study Of How Teachers With High And Low Completion Rates Interact With Virtual High School Students « Virtual School Meanderings — April 2, 2010 @ 2:51 pm | Reply

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