Impact of Online Course-load on Degree Completion, Transfer, and Dropout among Community College Students of the State University of New York
Abstract: Past research suggests that some students experience lower levels of academic performance when studying online compared to students who take coursework only in the classroom. Community college and racial minority students appear to be among those that experience lower outcomes online. In this paper, we hypothesize that online course load may influence outcomes for such students, especially those at risk for lower levels of degree attainment. To examine this, we conducted a state-wide study using data from the 30 community colleges (n=45,557) of the State University of New York. We sought to understand online course-load effects on degree completion, transfer, and dropout. We conclude that when controlling for co-variates known to impact degree completion, on average, community college students who successfully complete online courses nearly double their chances (odds ratio=1.72) of earning a degree or transferring to a 4-year college. However, racial minority students had reduced outcomes and additional research is warranted.