Efficiency of Online vs. Offline Learning: A Comparison of Inputs and Outcomes
Shweta Singh, David H. Rylander, Tina C. Mims

As the trend toward online education intensifies, questions remain regarding the overall efficiency of online courses versus their in-class counterparts. The current paper seeks to estimate the efficiency of students who take online courses relative to the efficiency of students who are enrolled in offline courses. Efficiency outcomes are defined in terms of (1) quantitative scores achieved by the student at the end of the course, (2) the student’s viewpoint of how much they learned in the course and (3) the student’s level of satisfaction with the course.The authors use Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) to estimate a model of student efficiency. Demographics, student experience and student preferences are examined as differentiating attributes. The sample is taken from a course offered both online and in a traditional classroom setting, with both formats being taught by the same instructor in a single semester.Implications include a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in efficiency of different course formats.

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