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Online Graduates Report Engaging Learning Experience
Gallup Blog

Online Graduates Report Engaging Learning Experience

Online Graduates Report Engaging Learning Experience

For years, many people have assumed that education delivered online is inferior to in-person instruction when it comes to providing an engaging and challenging higher education experience. However, a new study conducted by Gallup and 2U, an education technology company, suggests such an experience in an online setting is possible -- and in some cases, it can be done in a way that surpasses in-person delivery. These results come as nearly all colleges and universities are transitioning from in-person to online instruction amid fears of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In 2013, Gallup released research that documented, for the first time, that certain supportive experiences students had while enrolled in a degree-granting program correspond with higher short- and long-term employment and better wellbeing outcomes. Among these experiences is having a professor who made students feel excited about learning.

In the most recent Gallup-2U study of graduate degree holders who graduated from 2U-powered online programs, 77% of alumni strongly agree that they had at least one professor at their graduate institution who made them excited about learning. This compares favorably with the 71% of recent graduates nationally who completed their graduate degree in-person or mostly in-person, and the 67% of all recent graduate school alumni nationally who took all, some or none of their courses online (regardless of their affiliation with 2U).

On a five-point scale, where 5 means strongly agree and 1 means strongly disagree, please rate your level of agreement with the following items.
I had at least one professor at [Institution name] who made me excited about learning.
1-Strongly disagree 2 3 4 5-Strongly agree
% % % % %
Graduates from 2U-powered programs 1 1 5 17 77
All recent graduate degree holders nationally 2 3 6 22 67
All recent graduate degree holders who completed their study completely or mostly in-person 1 2 5 20 71
Gallup-2U

Graduates from these 2U-powered online programs are also just as likely as other graduates nationally to strongly agree that they were challenged academically. Fifty-nine percent of alumni surveyed from 2U-powered programs strongly agree that they were challenged academically at their institution, compared with 56% who recently completed their degree in-person or mostly in-person and 54% of all graduate degree holders nationally. In addition, if they had the chance to do it all over again, 92% who graduated from a 2U-powered program would still pursue an online degree.

On a five-point scale, where 5 means strongly agree and 1 means strongly disagree, please rate your level of agreement with the following items.
I was challenged academically at [Institution name].
1-Strongly disagree 2 3 4 5-Strongly agree
% % % % %
Graduates from 2U-powered programs 1 4 5 30 59
All recent graduate degree holders nationally 3 4 12 27 54
All recent graduate degree holders who completed their study completely or mostly in-person 2 5 12 26 56
Gallup-2U

Implications

The spring 2020 semester has suddenly become a turbulent time in higher education as a growing number of universities are quickly closing campuses and moving learning online to slow the transmission of COVID-19. This research suggests that online learning can be a highly engaging and academically challenging experience if done right.

Still, not all online experiences are created equal. Just as there is diversity in the quality of campus-based programs, the quality of online programs also varies tremendously. In high-quality online programs, technology must enable faculty members to easily and effectively connect with students; students must be able to interact with their peers so that they can learn from one another; and the technology must be sufficiently stable to support instruction and the receipt and transmission of content. Additionally, applied learning experiences that have long been regarded as some of the most important experiences for students must be available in online offerings.

With the growing threat of COVID-19, an immediate transition to online learning is critical for higher education institutions nationally. During these difficult times, it's particularly important that early leaders in online education share what they have learned (PDF download) with those who are quickly transitioning to this modality, as some have begun doing.

It is through this best practice sharing that the entire higher education community will ensure their students finish the academic year with a positive and transformative educational experience at the same time that they do their part to slow the pandemic. Measurement and constant evaluation are also essential to ensure students are experiencing the highest-quality education, regardless of modality. In its most recent study, 2U reminds higher education institutions nationally how important it is to track the short-, medium- and long-term outcomes of graduate degree programs.

To learn more about this research, download the report here (PDF download) and read why 2U did this study.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/296930/online-graduates-report-engaging-learning-experience.aspx
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