For the purposes of this review, Web-based instruction is considered to be any educational or training program distributed over the Internet or an intranet and conveyed through a browser, such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. Java applet-based instruction is a special form of Web-based instruction.
Although there is very little research on comparing the effectiveness of Java applet-based instruction to the traditional face-to-face offering. However Web-based instruction has received enough attention that many studies are now available in the research literature.
Comparing the learning effects of Web-based learning with traditional face-to-face teaching and learning is emphasized in the research on the Internet as a medium in higher education. However, these research studies always produce conflicting results. Researchers found significant differences, positive or negative, in using different Internet-based approaches to facilitate teaching and learning.
This literature review explores three dominant themes: impact on student performance, student attitude, and student satisfaction. While Statistics is the subject area of this particular research study, the scope of this literature review is expanded to research that examines the dominant themes, regardless of the specific academic subject area.
Studies found Web-based learning had a positive effect on students' performance. To date, the most methodologically sound investigation to evaluate the effectiveness of online instruction was conducted by Gerald Schutte (1996). Schutte conducted a study in a Social Statistics course at California State University, Northridge. Thirty-three students were randomly divided into two groups, one taught in a traditional classroom and the other taught virtually on the World Wide Web. Text, lectures and exams were standardized between the two groups. The results demonstrated the virtual class scored an average 20% higher than the traditional class on both examinations.
Numerous studies also supported the significant increases in learning outcomes for online learners over their traditional counterparts.
In a comprehensive study from Agarwal and Day (1998), students' achievements within a fully developed Web-based Instruction (WBI) course were compared with a traditional two-semester course in Economics. In the WBI course, e-mail and mailing lists were used to address student questions regarding the learning material. The WWW.wasused for presenting class-related information (syllabi, schedules, projects, and assignments) and for completing Web projects that required students to use information from the Internet. Results showed that the use of WBI had a positive influence on students' learning, both for examination scores and final grades, compared with a traditional course.
Day, Raven, and Newman (1998) compared and studied the effects of Web-based vs. traditional instruction on students' achievement in undergraduate technical writing in an agricommunication course. They found that online students attained significantly higher achievement scores in the major class project and essay assignments than those in the traditional course.
Navarro and Shoemaker (2000) studied 151 students enrolled in a traditional class format and 49 in a cyberspace format. The cyberspace course provided lectures on CD-ROM, electronic bulletin, electronic mail (e-mail), and chat rooms for asynchronous discussions. Additionally, online discussion rooms were available for synchronous discourse. Students in the online format performed significantly better in the course as reflected in their final exam grade.
Dutton, Dutton and Perry (2001) compared traditional face-to-face lectures with WBI. They found that students in the WBI version of a course in a computer language did significantly better than undergraduate students in the lecture version of the class, both in final examinations and in grades (which were based on lab program average, homework, programming projects, tests, and the final examination).
Dutton, Dutton and Perry (2001) also studied 68 pre-service teachers in a Computers and Education class. The class was divided into two groups, one that used e-mail as a mode of communication for supplementary materials and one that did not. The authors focused on the grades received by the two different groups, and claim that the use of e-mail improves student performance. The authors reported a statistically significant difference in academic performance between the two groups, with the e-mail group performing significantly better than the non-e-mail group. However, the authors did not have a pre-intervention measure of their performance. Although the participation in the classes was assigned randomly, not obtaining a baseline measure of performance to compare the two groups before the intervention lessens the causal strength of their argument.
Al-Jarf and Sado (2002) investigated two groups of freshmen students in their first ESL writing course and found the experimental group (Web-based instruction) made more gains in writing, became more efficient, made fewer errors, and communicated more easily and fluently, compared with the traditional classroom control group.
Carey (2001) evaluated a Web-based interactive tutorial used to present hypothesis testing concepts. Students either used the interactive tutorial or completed a standard laboratory assignment covering the same topics. Students who used the tutorial performed better on a quiz than students who completed the standard laboratory, supporting the effectiveness of online tutorial. (Levy, 2005) compared the learning effectiveness of a methods course in learning disability delivered in traditional format and a graduate course on ADD/ADHD conducted online using WebCT. Results of analyzing self-reported survey data indicated the online course was effective for students to gain knowledge regarding ADD/ADHD concepts and skills, and to improve technological skills.
Studies also showed that Web-enhanced learning, with course materials available on the Web aside from face-to-face instruction, was positively related to students' learning outcome. In a study of a solid waste management course, Other researchers have found the use of Web-enhancements had a very positive effect on the solid waste management course. Some of the benefits observed are that students arrive at class better prepared for the material to be presented and that student focus can be directed to the important topics. Student comments indicate that they have little preparation to do immediately prior to an exam and they know which topics they must review to be ready for the exam. In his study of three-semester length courses with a large mathematical component, (Basile, D'Aquila, 2002) found that grades had increased in Web-enhanced courses compared to a previous semester when the lecture notes were not available. Many students during the semester stated that they liked being able to print the lecture notes and bring them to class so they could add their comments to the printed outline.
Contrasting to the positive results, a few studies have shown better performance in lecture courses. Waits, Lewis (2003) found that traditional methods of teaching a laboratory component in a research design course were superior to computer-based methods of teaching. Schulman & Sims (1999) found no difference on midterm examinations for Web-based and lecture versions of statistical methods courses, they reported better performance on the final examination in the lecture course. Waits & Lewis (2003) compared lecture and Web-based sections of introductory psychology. Mean performance was higher in lecture classes than in Web-based classes, but the difference was significant only on the final examination when students self-selected sections.
Studies also abound demonstrating "no significant difference" in student performance in traditional and Web-based college courses. Johnson (2002) conducted a comparison study of all Web-based class to a traditional class and also found no significant difference in GPA between online and traditional learners. In a study that compiled 50 years of research comparing different delivery methods of instruction, (Dutton, Dutton, Perry, 2001) found no significant differences in learning outcomes when looking only at the medium of delivering instruction. Schulman and Sims (1999) did not find any significant differences on the posttest scores between the online and traditional students in an undergraduate course. Clark (1983) found no differences in performance data (course and examination work) between a traditional and a WBI undergraduate course in Sports Science. He also confirmed results from previous research showing that there is little or no difference in student learning outcomes when online learning is compared with on-campus classroom experiences. Ryan (2000) compared online and traditional student performance in construction equipment and methods classes and found no significant differences in performance between the two groups. Based on a study of comparing outcomes of an online and face-to-face advanced English course, Day, Raven, Newman, (1997) concluded that there were no significant differences between students in the online courses compared to students in the face-to-face courses in terms of course retention or course grade. These researchers also found no significant differences in performance in an introductory biology class.
Several other studies have found no differences in learning outcomes in various courses between online and traditional learner. A study was conducted by Ryan (2000) to compare the differences in the achievement of students who studied senior high advanced mathematics by distance education and students who studied senior high advanced mathematics by traditional means. Results showed that distance education students were as successful in achievement in senior high advanced mathematics as traditionally taught students.
No significant differences were reported (Schulman, Sims, 1999) for a long-term delivery of a WBI computing course in comparison to a traditional lecture. Web content presentations consisted not only of an audio track and a…