Virtual School Meanderings

March 13, 2019

Article Notice: Online Self-Paced High-School Class Size And Student Achievement

While the authors posted this piece on their ResearchGate page back in July, it was officially published recently.

Educational Technology Research and Development

Volume 67, Issue 2pp 317–336

  • Chin-Hsi Lin
  • Jemma Bae Kwon
  • Yining Zhang
Research Article


In the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom, small classes are generally perceived as desirable, but the benefits associated with particular class sizes in online education have not yet received much scholarly attention. Using a dataset of 10,648 enrollment records generated during the 2013–2014 school year at a state virtual school in the Midwestern U.S., this study examined the relationship between class size and student learning outcomes. The results of hierarchical linear modeling with fractional polynomial analysis suggest a reverse-U-shaped relationship, in which increasing online class sizes had a positive impact on achievement until the number of students reached 45, but a negative one if numbers increased beyond that level. At the subject level, similar reverse-U-shaped patterns were observed in math, social science, and other subjects, but not in English, foreign languages, or science.


Online learning Class size Student achievement Virtual school 

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