Predictors of academic success in web-based courses: age, GPA, and instruction mode

Published date05 September 2016
Date05 September 2016
AuthorElizabeth J. Vella,Elizabeth F. Turesky,Jenni Hebert
Subject MatterEducation,Curriculum, instruction & assessment,Educational evaluation/assessment
Predictors of academic success
in web-based courses: age, GPA,
and instruction mode
Elizabeth J. Vella
Department of Psychology, University of Southern Maine, Portland,
Maine, USA
Elizabeth F. Turesky
Department of Leadership and Organizational Studies,
University of Southern Maine, Lewiston, Maine, USA, and
Jenni Hebert
Department of Organizational Leadership,
Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to use a heutagogical approach to determine whether students
enrolled in blended courses achieve higher grades relative to those enrolled in completely online courses,
in addition to identifying demographic predictors of academic success in college courses involving
Web-based modes of instruction.
Design/methodology/approach – Mixed models regression evaluated predictors of grade in terms
of age, gender, instruction mode, graduate vs undergraduate status and full-time vs part-time load
across 2,174 students (M 27.6, SD 9.54 years) enrolled in Web-based courses for a single term at a
mid-sized public university in the northeastern USA.
Findings – In accordance with expectations, a signicant main effect indicated higher grades among
students enrolled in blended relative to completely online courses. Other predictors of academic success
in Web-based courses included older age, female gender, graduate student status and part-time
academic load. An interaction between age and gender on grade indicated the difference in performance
between men and women diminished among older compared to younger students. Another interaction
between age and instruction mode on successful course completion indicated a higher probability of
success in blended courses among older students relative to their younger counterparts.
Research limitations/implications – This study is limited by its cross-sectional design of large scope,
which is incapable of addressing differences in online instructional styles and student motivation factors.
Originality/value – The current study offers newfound evidence that students enrolled in Web-based
college courses may benet from a blended instructional format, a nding that may be particularly
evident among older students.
Keywords Performance, Universities, Distance learning, Adult education, Colleges
Paper type Research paper
Disclosure: we wish to conrm that there are no known conicts of interest associated with this
publication, and there has been no signicant nancial support for this work that could have
inuenced its outcome.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 22 August 2015
Revised 22 May 2016
15 July 2016
Accepted 22 July 2016
QualityAssurance in Education
Vol.24 No. 4, 2016
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/QAE-08-2015-0035

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