Online Teacher Education: Exploring the Impact of a Reading and Literacy Program on Student Learning

Dr. Barbara Weschke, Dr. Raymond Barclay, Kirk Vandersall


This study presents findings from an investigation of the impact of teachers who graduated from a fully online master’s degree program with training in pedagogy and a content-specialization in elementary reading and literacy (oERL) on reading achievement in a large urban public school system in the northwestern United States. The research team used a non-equivalent group design and matched pairs of teachers based on degree, grade-level taught, and teaching experience to construct the study on three years of student and teacher data. The study consisted of 70 teachers and 3,828 student observations. Hierarchical linear modeling was employed to understand the teachers’ effects on student learning over time. Results indicate there was a significant positive effect of the oERL on student achievement. Broadly, this study is an example of a serious attempt to ascertain the impact of a high demand and fully online program on the community where graduates are employed. More narrowly, these results support the view that a fully online program aimed at training teachers, a rarity in graduate education, can provide opportunities for those teachers to obtain the pedagogical content knowledge that can positively influence instructional effectiveness.


Reading, literacy, student achievement,elementary education, online education


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