DOE study: Nontraditional Undergraduates

A very interesting study from the Department of Education was released in 2002, as Findings from the Condition of Education 2002 study.

In that study it was determined that almost three-quarters of all U.S. undergraduate students are in some way non-traditional. They identified seven characteristics that made students in some way non-traditional:

  1. Delayed enrollment (past first fall after high school graduation)
  2. Attends part-time at least part of the academic year
  3. Works full time while enrolled (35+ hours)
  4. Is considered financially independent (under financial aid guidelines)
  5. Has dependents other than a spouse
  6. Is a single parent
  7. Does not have a high school diploma (may have GED)

Classifications suggested:

  1. Marginally non-traditional: only one characteristic
  2. Moderately non-traditional: two or three characteristics
  3. Highly non-traditional: four or more characteristics

Moderately and Highly non-traditional students are more likely than other students to participate in distance education. Interesting reading!

Download the full report.

Podcast trumps lecture in one college study

In a recent study at the State University of New York at Fredonia, researches looked at whether experiencing a live lecture in the classroom or viewing a recorded version of the same lecture made a difference in learning.

The result? Students who watched a video podcast scored on average a letter grade higher (71 percent vs. 62 percent) on an exam over the material.

Researchers noted that the mediating variables seemed to be the use of the pause and rewind buttons, multiple viewings of the recorded version, and whether the students were actively taking notes or not.

This is an interesting study report you should read at

Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning | The Sloan Consortium

The Sloan Consortium recently published a very important study of the growth of online learning. The comprehensive study was supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and included a broad survey of 2,500 colleges and universities. Anyone remotely involved in online and distance learning should read it. Here are some key points:

Background: For the past several years, online enrollments have been growing substantially faster than overall higher education enrollments. The expectation of academic leaders has been that these enrollments would continue their substantial growth for at least another year. Do the measured enrollments match these lofty expectations?

The evidence: Online enrollments have continued to grow at rates far in excess of the total higher education student population, albeit at slower rates than for previous years.

  • Almost 3.5 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2006 term; a nearly 10 percent increase over the number reported the previous year.
  • The 9.7 percent growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 1.5 percent growth of the overall higher education student population.
  • Nearly twenty percent of all U.S. higher education students were taking at least one online course in the fall of 2006.

You can (and should!) read and download the complete survey here: Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning | The Sloan Consortium .