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How Does Distance Education Compare with Classroom Instruction? A Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature

Robert M. Bernard, Philip C. Abrami, Yiping Lou, Evgueni Borokhovski, Anne Wade, Lori Wozney, Peter Andrew Wallet, Manon Fiset and Binru Huang
Review of Educational Research
Vol. 74, No. 3 (Autumn, 2004), pp. 379-439
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3516028
Page Count: 61
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How Does Distance Education Compare with Classroom Instruction? A Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature
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Abstract

A meta-analysis of the comparative distance education (DE) literature between 1985 and 2002 was conducted. In total, 232 studies containing 688 independent achievement, attitude, and retention outcomes were analyzed. Overall results indicated effect sizes of essentially zero on all three measures and wide variability. This suggests that many applications of DE outperform their classroom counterparts and that many perform more poorly. Dividing achievement outcomes into synchronous and asynchronous forms of DE produced a somewhat different impression. In general, mean achievement effect sizes for synchronous applications favored classroom instruction, while effect sizes for asynchronous applications favored DE. However, significant heterogeneity remained in each subset.

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