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A comparison of learning outcomes by ‘in-course’ evaluation techniques for an online course in a controlled environment

By Otis L. Stanley


The purpose of this study is to determine if the type of weekly evaluation method used in an online course contributes to a difference in the learning outcomes for students. Two methods for the ongoing evaluation of student learning were analyzed for differences in learning outcomes as demonstrated by mid-term and final exam test scores. Using an experimental design, students that enrolled in either a Disease Control course or an Epidemiology course were randomized into one of two sections in each course. Holding the course parameters the same except for the weekly evaluation type (homework or quiz), bivariate analysis using independent t tests supported that sections were similar in both courses with respect to test scores. A statistically significant difference did occur between final exam scores in the Disease Control course with the higher scores occurring in the quiz section. End of course student satisfaction surveys were similar for both types of evaluation methods and for both courses. Of the students that responded to the surveys, the majority felt their overall learning experience was either good or very good, regardless of whether they completed weekly interactive homework assignments or automated quizzes. This study supports the idea that learning outcomes and student satisfaction scores with a weekly automated quiz are equivalent or improved over the more interactive weekly homework assignments in select courses

Year: 2006
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