Investigating Online Versus In-Person Learning on Student Performance
Keywords:emergency remote assessment, online assessment methods, academic integrity, quality assurance
The urgent transformation from face-to-face teaching to an online format in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) worldwide was carried out overnight, and almost seamlessly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the transition to adopting online assessment methods may have proved challenging for academics, recent literature in this area highlights the main reason for this—that many face-to-face universities had never implemented any form of online assessment from an institutional perspective prior to the pandemic. This issue was further exacerbated by the fact that these assessments had to be conducted remotely, bringing to the fore extraordinary challenges for HEIs, including academic dishonesty, infrastructural limitations, coverage of learning outcomes, and commitment of students to submit assessments, to name but a few. The overarching purpose of this research was to determine which teaching method proved more effective over the eight-year period. The scores of 548 students—401 traditional students and 147 online students—in an environmental science class were used to determine which instructional modality generated better student performance by means of a comparative study. This article adopts a quantitative approach analysing retrospective data at the selected institution to determine the performance of undergraduate students during the first and second semesters of 2019, when the institution operated in a fully face-to-face environment, and compares these results with those achieved during the first two semesters of 2020, during which the institution adopted emergency remote teaching and assessment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this article was to determine whether students performed better or worse in the online environment. Results from institutional-wide modules were compared across the two years.
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