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Online Penalty: The Gap Between Latino and White Student Achievement in Online Classes. Ray Kaupp, Ed.D., MBA Director, Workforce Development 2.0 Cabrillo College. Agenda. Genesis of the study Relevant literature Latino sociocultural perspective Equivalency Online outcomes Methodology

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Online Penalty: The Gap Between Latino and White Student Achievement in Online Classes

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Online Penalty: The Gap Between Latino and White Student Achievement in Online Classes

Foothill-DeAnza CCD

Ray Kaupp, Ed.D., MBADirector, Workforce Development 2.0Cabrillo College


  • Genesis of the study

  • Relevant literature

    • Latino sociocultural perspective

    • Equivalency

    • Online outcomes

  • Methodology

  • Findings

  • Discussion and implications

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Technology executive, second career in post-secondary education, experienced applying technology to solve problems

California community college student success rate in online is 5 points lower than face-to-face (Nather, 2007)

Costanza study of 12 transfer classes revealed broadening of achievement gap in online classes (Kaupp, 2009)

Genesis of the Study

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Achievement Gap Exacerbated in Online Classes

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Motivation: “willingness to ‘show up’ online makes a huge difference”

Technology: “it probably has to do with familiarity of the technology”

Language: “online students need to be able to read . . . written text better”

In other words . . . student deficits, rather than institutional deficits!

Institutional Response?

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Sociocultural construct of educación central to Latino student success (Bartolomé, 2009; Valenzuela, 1999; Rendón, 2002)

Web 2.0 can support the relational approach (O’Reilly, 2005)

Equivalence has been operationalized as equivalence of elements, not outcomes

Online classes are “as good (or as bad) as face-to-face education.” (Zhao, Lei, Yan, Lai, & Tan, 2005)

Review of the Literature

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May 2005 to July 2009

Only classes offered online and face-to-face, same semester, same campus, where the student was enrolled

Only Latino and White students

Student attributes: Ethnicity, gender, goal, age, education level

Course attributes: Transfer, vocational, basic skills

4.5 million records of grade earned


Interviews with 10 Latino students enrolled in online classes Fall 2010

Methodology: Explanatory Mixed Methods

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Aggregated Data Confirms Other Studies

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Key finding: Enrollment skew masked online penalty

Example: Students with goal to update job skills had 2.33 average grade in online, vs. 2.30 in face-to-face

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Misalignment varies by goal

Transfer goal students, 14.3% of enrollments are not in transfer level classes

Vocational goal students, 63.6% of enrollments are not in vocational classes

Underprepared students, 96.8% of enrollments are not in basic skills classes

Analysis performed of outcomes for students in classes that were aligned with their goals

Student Goal and Courses Not Always Aligned

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Key finding: Online transfer classes exacerbate Latino-White gap

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Key finding: Online penalty in vocational classes is largest for Latinas

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Key finding: No gap, no online penalty for GED/HS diploma students in basic skills classes

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Summary of Quantitative Findings

There was an online penalty that varied based on ethnicity, gender, goal, and type of class

Because the online penalty was more severe for Latinos, online classes exacerbated the achievement gap

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Qualitative finding: Participants were highly capable with technology

“I have email on my phone but I don’t use it because I have a computer. I also use my laptop on a daily basis. I first used a computer in elementary school.”

“I’ve played Playstation, the original Nintendo, then Super Nintendo, then Play Station 1, and then from there PS2, and then from there, Xbox 360, and I haven’t gotten anything else since.”

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“I’m always on the computer. I’m comfortable with computers like I can play my own personal games, using Word, Excel, a couple of other programs, Access, and the Internet such as browsing and online courses, shopping, social networks (Facebook).”

Qualitative finding: Participants were realistic in their expectations of online classes

“I think it’s going to be a little more reading and stuff since nobody explained it to me, so in a way, yeah, more homework, but since you’re kind of doing the homework, which is class work, it kind of evens itself out in a way.”

“I think I have way more interaction in the face to face class. Normally you don’t really talk to other people when you take an online class.”

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“I believe the material is equally as hard. It’s harder in the sense that you have to be on top of yourself. You don’t have a set class time with a teacher to tell you what your homework is. It’s your responsibility to look it up and get it done with enough time. That aspect is harder. It’s easier because you don’t have to worry about being somewhere at a certain time.”

Qualitative finding: Prior bad classes characterized by poor relationships with instructor

“The teacher didn’t like answering questions. You would ask a question and she would talk to you like an idiot for not knowing.”

“There was no relationship between the teacher and the students in the bad class . . . He was trying to give us information. Not necessarily teaching it. there’s a difference. There really is.”

“ . . . why do I need to think like him to know the answers? I shouldn’t have to think like him to answer the correct answer, I should have to think about what information that I know … not what tricks is he going to use in the question. That was torture.”

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Qualitative finding: Prior good classes characterized by good relationships with instructor

“I felt like he was someone that I could easily open up to without being judged . . . he engaged everyone, he didn’t single anyone out . . . he was just a really good teacher and it seemed like he liked what he was doing.”

“I literally got 100% and turned in all my homework and never missed a class. Just because I had a really great teacher. I had his class six years ago I don’t think anyone actually dropped that class.”

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“I enjoyed the conversations that we had in class it was just so different [The instructor] would ask us stuff. He asked us to participate. He asked us what we thought. I’ve had teachers, if they thought that you weren’t paying attention, would ask you what you thought. He wasn’t like that.”

Qualitative finding: Online classes characterized by bad/nonexistent relationships

“I feel like I don’t get to know the instructor as well as if I were in a classroom situation.”

“I would submit things and I would feel like it was never enough. And then when you tried to communicate, you would get really small responses. I know he must be really busy, but I think that was the only class online that I didn’t really have a relationship at all in.”

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“I think if there is going to be a person . . . grading and setting up the syllabus and all of that for the class, I think they should have more of a connection with their students, as opposed to setting it up and just letting them go do it.”

“I never met the guy. I don’t know if he is a good teacher or not.”

Based on a prior relationship online

If student expectations are not high

Qualitative finding: Online instructor-student relationships can be workable

“I just let her know [about missing a deadline], and I emailed it to her and told her and she said just go ahead and do it . . . she’s very understanding. We have a good relationship, I think, [even though] we haven’t met in person.”

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“ . . . we email back and forth, and just when we need to. I think she has been sick for a while, but it’s not bad, from an online instructor.”

There was no evidence of Latino student deficits, previously cited by instructors and administrators

Student participants validated the importance of mutually respectful relationships to success in their education

Relationships were largely absent in participants’ online classes

Summary of Qualitative Findings

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Focus on gender, goal, Latino and White students only

Other ethnicities will likely have different findings

No measure of SES available

Use of grade as measure of outcome

large standard deviations (~1.5 grade points)

Broader issues around grading variations

No data on quality of course or instructor

We know quality of instruction is the greatest determinant of student success

Small self-selected sample for interview participants

Limitation of the Study

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Institutions must reframe program evaluation questions to explore equity implications

From “What is it about these students that makes them fail?” to “What is it about our program this isn’t working for these students?”

Equivalence should be based on outcomes, not elements

Online instructor quality needs improvement

Training, certification, community of practice

Online classes should be part of an integrated program

Discussion and Recommendations

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Thank you for your interest!

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Ray 295-2590 (txt & voice)

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