Date of Award

Winter 12-1-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Instructional Technology


Instructional Technology

Committee Chair

Dr. Julie Moore

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Tak Cheung Chan

Second Committee Member

Dr. Anissa Vega



This study provided a descriptive analysis of learning outcomes in both online and face-to-face grades 9-12 physical science courses. Archived data from a single school system were used for a comparative analysis of learning outcomes in high school physical science between students enrolled in online classes and students enrolled in face-to-face classes. The study compared two years of summative assessment scores of two student groups and, overall, found equality between the two learning environments. Online learning outcomes and face-to-face learning outcomes were similar for both school years, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. The overall comparison between learning environments was further examined to include independent variables. The additional analyses showed some significant differences in the learning outcomes relevant to gender, grade level, and ethnicity. In 2013 and in 2014, white American students significantly outperformed four other ethnic groups, Asian American, African American, Hispanic American, and Multi-Racial Americans, in face-to-face classes. However, in online classes these significant differences in student achievement between white American and the other four ethnic groups were not found. When comparing each of the reported ethnic groups, between online and face-to-face learning outcomes, one ethnic group’s assessment scores were significantly higher in online classes than in face-to-face classes. Hispanic American students in online classes had higher scores compared to Hispanic American students in face-to-face classes. Online learning outcomes also indicated gender equality in student achievement for both school years. The 2013 face-to-face findings indicated that African American female students had lower scores compared to African American male students.

Key statistical findings from the comparative analyses were shared with teachers using an online survey. The teacher interpretations of the indicated differences in student achievement between ethnic groups pointed to possible limitations in the African American community of this study, such as support of education and value of education. Teacher response narratives also indicated that teachers viewed higher grade level students as more mature learners with technology skills needed for online learning. Teachers also indicated a learning environment preference for face-to-face student-to-teacher interaction, and teachers’ learning environment preference for hands-on-tasks in physics was the traditional classroom. The online learning environment was preferred for chemistry content lessons that teachers believed to be more dependent on recall and memorization.