Students prefer to take ‘important’ courses face to face

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.

Students said they also avoided taking public speaking classes online, in large part because facing the challenge of giving a prepared speech in front of a live audience on campus was a key to learning the keys to the class.

“If I really wanted to get something out of the class, I’d want a podium and a live audience,” a student said.

Shanna Smith Jaggars, the author of the CCRC report, said understand which courses were considered a bad fit for online education would be important for community college officials who, until now, only had anecdotal evidence showing which courses were popular online, and which classes were considered better in person.

“Most students felt they did not learn the course material as well when they took it online. For most students, this deficit was due to reduced teacher explanation and interaction; for some respondents, the weaker student–student interaction was also problematic,” Smith Jaggars wrote. “As a result, students did not want to risk taking difficult courses online and  preferred the richer experience of the face-to-face classroom when learning about subjects they felt were particularly interesting or important.”

Sign up for our newsletter

Newsletter: Innovations in K12 Education
By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Comments are closed.

Oops! We could not locate your form.

Sign up for our newsletter

Newsletter: Innovations in K12 Education
By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.