Who Succeeds in Distance Learning? Evidence from Quantile Panel Data Estimation
25 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2017
Date Written: July 1, 2017
This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the distributional effects of distance learning (DL) on the academic success of sailor-students, as measured by course grades and completion. Using course-level data on 1.5 million courses taken by about 200,000 U.S. Navy sailors at more than 1,800 US institutions during 1994-2007, we find that similar to the civilian population, distance delivery of education is associated with poorer student outcomes. In addition, we find that the negative effect of DL at the mean is being driven by the bottom two-thirds of the distribution. At the mean, DL delivery is associated with 0.19 lower GPA; however, the mean effect masks the more pronounced negative effects of DL in the bottom tail of up to 0.8 lower grade points. Using variation only among marginal students – those who tend to fail some of the courses that they take, our estimates indicate traditional face-to-face delivery is associated with 2.4 times greater likelihood of course completion than if it was delivered distant to marginal students. These findings suggest that targeting DL courses to certain students may be more cost-effective.
Keywords: Distance Education, Online Education, Quantile Regression with Panel Data
JEL Classification: I20, I23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation