Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

James H. Lampley

Committee Members

Catherine H. Glascock, Lori T. Meier, Jasmine Renner


As part of a nationwide effort to increase the postsecondary educational attainment levels of citizens, colleges and universities have expanded offerings of courses and programs to more effectively meet the needs of students. Online courses offer convenience and flexibility that traditional face-to-face classes do not. These features appeal to students with family and work responsibilities that typically make attending classes on campus difficult. However, many of the students who tend to take courses in this instructional format have characteristics that place them at high-risk for academic failure. Because of the traditional mission of community colleges, they generally serve more students who fit this high-risk profile.

The purpose of this study was to determine if significant differences existed in student success at the community college level in online courses as compared to face-to-face courses. In addition, the researcher investigated the relationship between selected demographic, academic, enrollment, and external environmental factors and student success in online courses. Success was demonstrated by the final course letter grades earned by students. The identification of factors associated with student success in distance education could help improve online course development, evaluation, instruction, student advisement, and support services.

The study involved secondary data analysis of quantitative data relevant to students enrolled in course sections taught by instructors who taught both online and face-to-face sections of the same course within the same semester from fall 2012 through spring 2015 (excluding summer sessions). The target population included 4,604 students enrolled at a public 2-year community college located in southern Middle Tennessee.

Results indicated there was a significant difference in success between students taking a course online and students taking a course face-to-face. Also, there was a significant difference in success based on instructional method when the following factors were considered: age group, gender, composite ACT score, student load, student classification, Pell Grant eligibility status, and marital status. There was no significant difference in success based on instructional method when first-generation college student status or dependent child status were considered.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.