Comparison of student attitudes and performance in an online and a face-to-face inorganic chemistry course†
Despite recent interest in online learning, systematic comparisons of online learning environments with traditional classroom environments are limited, particularly in the sciences. Here, we report on a systematic comparison of an online and face-to-face classroom for a sophomore-level, lecture-only introductory inorganic chemistry course that is designed for students pursuing a chemistry major or minor. The online group consisted of three sections of students enrolled in Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry during two 8 week summer terms and one 4 week winter term. The face-to-face group consisted of two sections of students enrolled in Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry during two 15 week semesters. Both groups of students completed ten common exam questions, and a validated and reliable measure of their attitudes toward chemistry (Attitude toward the Subject of Chemistry Inventory Version 2: ASCIv2). Students in the online course and face-to-face course did not differ in their performance on the common exam questions, course grade distribution, or attitudes toward chemistry. Although few studies have compared online and face-to-face learning environments in the physical sciences, our results are consistent with the idea that students who complete an online course fare just as well as those who attend face-to-face classes.