No Significant Difference - Unless you are a Jumper




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


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.

Author Biographies

Richard J Fendler, Georgia State University

Clinical Associate Professor of Finance

Craig Ruff, Georgia State University

Clinical Associate Professor of Finance

Milind Shrikhande, Georgia State University

Clinical Professor of Finance


Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2014). Grade change: Tracking online education in the United States, 2013. Babson Survey Research Group and Quahog Research Group, LLC. Retrieved from

Anstine, J., & Skidmore, M. (2005). A small sample study of traditional and online courses with sample selection adjustment. The Journal of Economic Education, 107-127.

Bennett, D. S., Padgham, G. L., McCarty, C. S., & Carter, M. S. (2007). Teaching principles of economics: Internet vs. traditional classroom instruction. Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research, 8(1), 21-31.

Bertus, M., Gropper, D. M., & Hinkelmann, C. (2006). Distance education and MBA student performance in finance classes. Journal of Financial Education, 25-36.

Connolly, T. M., MacArthur, E., Stansfield, M., & McLellan, E. (2007). A quasi-experimental study of three online learning courses in computing. Computers & Education, 49(2), 345-359.

Dutton, J., Dutton, M., & Perry, J. (2001). Do online students perform as well as lecture students?. Journal of Engineering Education, 90(1), 131-136.

Euzent, P., Martin, T., Moskal, P., & Moskal, P. (2011). Assessing student performance and perceptions in lecture capture vs. face-to-face course delivery. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 10(1), 295-307.

Felder, R. M., & Spurlin, J. (2005). Applications, reliability and validity of the index of learning styles. International Journal of Engineering Education, 21(1), 103-112.

Fendler, R. J., Ruff, C., & Shrikhande, M. (2011). Online Versus In-class Teaching: Learning Levels Explain Student Performance. Journal of Financial Education, 45-63.

Grable, J., & Lytton, R. H. (1999). Financial risk tolerance revisited: the development of a risk assessment instrument. Financial services review, 8(3), 163-181.

Grable, J. E., & Lytton, R. H. (2003). The development of a risk assessment instrument: A follow-up study. Financial services review, 12(3), 257-274.

Gilliam, J., Chatterjee, S., & Grable, J. (2010). Measuring the perception of financial risk tolerance: A tale of two measures. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 21(2), 177-192.

Gratton-Lavoie, C., & Stanley, D. (2009). Teaching and learning principles of microeconomics online: An empirical assessment. The Journal of Economic Education, 40(1), 3-25.

Griffith, J. C., Roberts, D. L., & Schultz, M. C. (2014). Relationship Between Grades and Learning Mode. The Journal of American Business Review, Cambridge, 3(1), 81-88.

Helms, J. L. (2014). Comparing student performance in online and face-to-face delivery modalities. Online Learning, 18(1).

Iverson, K. M., Colky, D. L., & Cyboran, V. L. (2005). Eâ€Learning Takes the Lead: An Empirical Investigation of Learner Differences in Online and Classroom Delivery. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 18(4), 5-18.

Johnson, D., & Palmer, C. C. (2015). Comparing Student Assessments and Perceptions of Online and Face-to-Face Versions of an Introductory Linguistics Course. Online Learning, 19(2).

King, C. G., Guyette Jr, R. W., & Piotrowski, C. (2009). Online Exams and Cheating: An Empirical Analysis of Business Students' Views. Journal of Educators Online, 6(1), n1.

Larson, D. K., & Sung, C. H. (2009). Comparing Student Performance: Online versus Blended versus Face-to-Face. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 13(1), 31-42.

Livesay, G. A., Dee, K. C., Nauman, E. A., & Hites Jr, L. S. (2002). Engineering student learning styles: a statistical analysis using Felder’s Index of Learning Styles. In ASEE Conference and Exposition, Montreal, Quebec.

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Policy and Program Studies Service. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. Retrieved from

Murdock, J., Williams, A., Bruce, M. A., & Young, S. (2012). Online versus On-Campus: A Comparison Study of Counseling Skills Courses. The Journal of Human Resource and Adult Learning, 8(1), 105-118.

Reiser, R.A., & Dempsey, J.V. (Eds.) (2007). Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (2nd ed.). Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Russell, T. L. (1999). The no significant difference phenomenon: A comparative research annotated bibliography on technology for distance education: As reported in 355 research reports, summaries and papers. North Carolina State University.

Self-Assessments of Readiness for Online Learning (n.d.). Retrieved from

Watson, G., & Sottile, J. (2010). Cheating in the digital age: Do students cheat more in online courses?. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(4).

Zywno, M. S. (2003). A contribution to validation of score meaning for Felder-Soloman’s index of learning styles. In Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education annual conference & exposition, 119 (1-5).






Empirical Studies