Publication Date

January 2018


We analyze the student learning and background characteristics of multiple sections of an upper-division undergraduate work and family sociology course, two taught face-to-face and four offered completely online. The learning environments across the two delivery modes were strictly controlled, with the same instructor in all six sections, the same assignments, and the same grading standards. Our qualitative data suggest that students select either online or face-to-face sections to match their perceived learning styles, and to accommodate their academic schedules, as well as work and family obligations. Our quantitative results suggest that most learning outcomes do not differ by delivery mode. We do see differences in levels of class participation favoring online students; students with higher GPAs participate more, while those with higher levels of activity hours and who are taking more online credits participate less. Online students face a trade-off between working more hours and participating in online classes. Our results need replication to determine whether these findings obtain in other upper-division sociology classes.