Lab sciences were among the “difficult” courses avoided in online settings.

The independent nature of online courses has seemingly driven community college students to sign up for less challenging classes online while taking tough classes in a traditional classroom.

While prior studies have shown that many community college students struggled in web-based courses, new research published this week by the Community College Research Center in New York shows that even as two-year schools have grown their various online offerings, students are hesitant to take “important” classes outside the face-to-face teaching and learning environment.

The flexibility and convenience of online college classes continue to be a primary draw for nontraditional students with jobs and families, according to the CCRC research, but students quoted in a survey said determining which courses to take online boiled down to whether they considered a class interesting, important, easy, or difficult.

Lab science was among the courses considered ill-fit to take on the web, according to the CCRC study.

“It’s kind of like, ‘No, that seems a bit much.’ I don’t want to have a chemistry lab going on in my kitchen,” a student said in CCRC’s survey.

Foreign language classes also fell well within the “difficult” classification, as many students said they would only take those courses on campus.

“Based on students’ explanations, it appeared that language practice in these courses was purely textual, with little opportunity for listening and no opportunity for spoken practice,” the paper said.

“When all you do is write your German and type in little prompts, you’re not really learning how to speak it,” one student said.


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