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This article examines the issue of whether linguistics is better suited for a face-to-face (F2F) environment than an online teaching environment. Specifically, it examines assessment scores and student perceptions of the effectiveness of an introductory linguistics course at an undergraduate state university that has been taught multiple times in both online and F2F modes. To study this issue data was collected about the types of students enrolled in either version of the course, including their GPAs and course grades. A survey with both closed- and open-ended questions was also used to ask students about their experiences and perceptions of the two environments. Students responded to questions on factors such as procrastination, engagement with socially sensitive discussion topics, preferences for discussion modality, and motivations for course enrollment. Results of the data problematize the notion that linguistics (and perhaps other disciplines) is equally suited for an online and F2F environment since students fare better academically and engage more with the F2F linguistics course. Results also show that students with higher GPAs gravitate toward F2F classes. Regarding the course itself, convenience is the primary category that students consistently noted as a reason for selecting the online linguistics course versus its F2F counterpart. Even so, results do show some effectiveness in treating linguistic content online. Suggestions and strategies are offered to further strengthen online delivery of linguistic material to overcome some of the structural hurdles presented by student enrollment patterns and (dis)engagement.

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Online Learning Journal

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