No Significant Difference - Unless you are a Jumper

Richard J Fendler, Craig Ruff, Milind Shrikhande


Much of the e-education literature suggests that there is no significant difference in aggregate student learning outcomes between online and face-to-face instruction. In this study, we develop a model that forecasts the grade that individual students would have most likely earned in the alternate class setting. Students for whom the difference between the actual grade received in one class format (for example, online) and the forecasted grade in the other class setting (for example, face-to-face) is one full letter grade or higher are called “jumpers.” Our findings indicate that jumpers are numerous, suggesting that whereas no significant difference may exist between instruction settings at the aggregate level, at the individual level, the choice between settings matters. These results have important implications for the no significant difference literature and strongly support the need for refined course setting advisement for students.


online learning, face-to-face instruction, no significant difference, learning outcomes

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