Chapter Threeshort4 - Chapter Three-Research Design As...

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Chapter Three-Research Design As stated in Chapter Two, the hypothesis of this research study is the following: If distance learning programs at community colleges are successful, then students in dl classes must persist at the same or greater rate than students in traditional classes. In order to ascertain whether this hypothesis reflects what is actually occurring at local community colleges, a research protocol will be established. This research study will consist of cross-sectional and longitudinal study of two local Community Colleges from Spring, 2001 through Spring 2003. Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) and Montgomery County Community College (MC3) were chosen as the author had immediate and relatively easy access to the research data needed. At each institution, a list of TV and web-based courses will be obtained for Spring, 2001 through Spring 2003 semesters. A cross- comparison will be made between TV and Web-based courses offered at each institution each of the above semesters. Courses at both institutions will be matched according to their course descriptions in their respective college catalogs. ( See appendix A, Summary Table of MC3 TV courses with CCP counterparts; and appendix B, Summary of MC3 Online courses with their CCP counterparts). A further investigation of the TV and Web-based courses at both MC3 and CCP will reveal that the vast majority of faculty teaching in these distance learning courses were full-time; therefore this research study chose to investigate just the full timers teaching at these institutions. ). Distance learning courses (both TV/Video and Web-based) and traditional courses will be compared: 1. in the same department (ex. Psychology, Computer Information Studies) 2. using the same course (for example, General psychology, Introduction to Personal Computers.) 3. taught by the same professor during the same semester. By evaluating dl and traditional courses taught by the same professor, elimination of the different individual effect is accomplished. In sum this faculty input characteristic will be controlled for. A truncated summary of our research design appears below: 1
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Research Design Institution Spring, 2001 Retention % Fall, 2001 Retention % Spring, 2002 Retention % Fall, 2002 Retention % Spring, 2003 Retention % CCP-F/t Fac. a. Distance Learning TV/Video Web-based b. Traditional MC3-F/t Fac. a. Distance Learning b. Traditional (The data bases for this protocol were provided by the directors of distance learning programs at CCP and MC3.) Threats to Internal Validity -Student Persistence As all cross-sectional research studies are conducted at a specific point in time, the age of the participants, the historical period and/or the unique cohort of students may directly affect the research results. For example, is something going on inside or outside the academic
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Chapter Threeshort4 - Chapter Three-Research Design As...

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