Would a Hybrid Be More Efficient? Analysis of Class Grades: A Traditional Format vs. One With an Online Component

To learn more about how students learn, I conducted a test of a core subject that I teach. It's titled “The American Experience,” and it's a required course for juniors and seniors at LaGrange College. I've taught the course using in-class presentation of the material and student discussions of key points and questions posed to the class. I've also taught the course in an online format, complete with presentations and podcasts, discussion forums and chats. In both cases, papers are emailed to me. But it is always difficult to compare across classes because my traditional-oriented class tests are of the closed-book, pencil-and-paper variety with a format of multiple-choice questions and short essays for in-person classes, while online exams tend toward essays that are open-book and open-note. The solution was to offer a hybrid course that blended the in-person experience with an online supplement. While attendance would be mandatory, accessing the online materials would be optional. If it was made available, would students utilize the online methods? Would the online material help them in a traditional class?

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