A comparison of online and traditional chemistry lecture and lab
While the equivalence between online and traditional classrooms has been well researched, very little effort has been expended to do such comparisons for college level introductory chemistry. The existing literature has only one study that investigated chemistry lectures at an entire course level as opposed to particular course components such as individual topics or exams. Regarding lab courses, only one study is available and it involves moderating variables that are largely uncontrolled. In this work, we compared the student pass rates, withdrawal rates, and grade distributions between asynchronous online and traditional formats of an introductory chemistry lecture as well as its associated lab course. The study was based on the 823 university records available for the 2015–2016 academic year. Student pass and withdrawal rates between the two modes were quite similar and did not appear to be statistically significant. However, grade distributions for both the lecture and lab differed between the two learning modes, showing significant statistical associations. Online students were more likely to earn As in both lecture and lab while traditional in-person students were more likely to earn Cs or Ds. Further research should include replication of this study with a larger data set. Additionally, this study should be repeated in three to five years to determine if advances in course design, standardization and delivery platforms further reduce or eliminate differences between learning modes. Future studies should also use qualitative tools for a better understanding of why students fail or withdraw from courses.