Study: Hybrid class works for college students

College statistics students in a hybrid class — online instruction plus a one-hour face-to-face session — performed slightly better than the control group and spent 1.7 fewer hours per week on the course, write William G. Bowen, Matthew M. Chingos, Kelly A. Lack and Thomas I. Nygren in Education Next.

“The effect of the hybrid-format course did not vary when controlling for race/ethnicity, gender, parental education, primary language spoken, score at the standardized pretest, hours worked for pay, or college GPA,” the authors report.

Half the students who participated come from families with incomes less than $50,000 and half are first-generation college students. Less than half are white, and the group is about evenly divided between students with college GPAs above and below 3.0.

Carnegie Mellon designed the hybrid course, which was taught at public universities in New York and Maryland.

Students in the control group received three to four hours of face-to-face instruction each week.

Moving to the hybrid model could cut the costs by 19 percent to 57 percent, depending on whether professors do all the teaching or assign sections to teaching assistants, the authors estimate.

EdX will ‘blend’ with community colleges

Two Boston community colleges will partner with edX, Harvard and MIT’s online learning venture, on a “blended” computer science class. Three MIT professors will teach the online course; community college professors will provide classroom instruction and support.

Roll your own college education

Many students attend two, three, four or more colleges en route to a degree, writes Chad Alderman on The Quick and the Ed. With AP and online courses, plus low-cost community college options, even more will be rolling their own education. So why not let course-givers provide credits, instead of going through institutions?

StraighterLine offers college courses for $99 a month (read more about how this works here), but then partners with accredited colleges and universities, like Fort Hays State, to accept the credits and provide a stamp of legitimacy in the form of its regional accreditation.

Alderman envisions a student who takes “MIT’s math courses, StraighterLine’s Economics I, Introductory Spanish at the local community college, and a rhetoric course at a state university.”

All the courses must be certified as high quality and completely transferable, which could be possible with common learning standards and summative evaluations.

Ensuring quality is the challenge. The exam backing common learning standards couldn’t be set at the MIT level. What level would be considered reasonable?

Psych students do better online

Students who took Psychology 101 online outperformed those who attended lectures at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Professor Diane Reddy has replaced the traditional lecture format with an online version of Psych 101. Students learn at their own pace but also have to obtain mastery, demonstrated by passing a quiz on each unit, before they can move on to the next.

Along the way, students get help from teaching assistants who monitor their online activity, identifying weak spots and providing advice – even if the students don’t seek it.

Over two years, online students tested 12 percent higher and earned more A’s and B’s than those who took the in-person class, even though online students started with lower grades averages. Low-income, minority and low-performing students did especially well with the online course.