by Jessica Sanchez
The Institutional Research office has been working on a project throughout the 2014-2015 academic year to assess Distance Education (DE) at El Camino College (ECC) and the Compton Center. These reports chronicle the recent growth of online course offerings and enrollments at ECC and the Compton Center and compare academic performance in these courses with their traditional classroom counterparts. These reports include a plethora of information on success, retention, course offering, student demographics, and performance.
One interesting find is the growth of online courses, particularly hybrid courses. Hybrid courses are those where students have weekly meetings on campus with online content included in the course. Figure 1 below shows hybrid section offerings at ECC tripled from Fall 2014 to Fall 2015. Sections (and consequently seats), have also increased considerably. The full report includes figures for trends spanning from Fall 2011 to Fall 2015 as well as Spring 2011 to Spring 2015.
Traditional and DE course success and retention was compared across all disciplines. Findings show that there is plenty of variation among courses. Further analyses, as well as expert input, can help pinpoint courses that need revision. These data can help steer the conversation of DE towards interventions and professional development that will increase course success rates.
Figure 2 shows that over half of students that took DE courses at the Compton Center over the 2014-2015 academic year were not first timers. Similar enrollment patterns were found for ECC (not shown here). These students are continuing to take advantage of the DE offerings at ECC and The Compton Center. The figure also shows that half the students that were enrolled in DE courses were also enrolled in on campus courses. This is interesting because it shows that students are supplementing their course load with DE courses.
In addition to the update of the DE performance reports, distance education students at both campuses were surveyed about their experiences at ECC and the Compton Center. Students seem to be content with the DE courses they have taken at ECC and the Compton Center. When students were asked what reasons would keep them from taking DE courses in subsequent semesters, 61% of respondents said there was no reason for them not to take a DE course in the future. When asked if they would be interested in completing a degree or certificate completely online, 76% of students said they would be interested in doing so. This is promising since the campuses are looking into expanding the online services and number of sections offered.
When asked for further comment, students were forthcoming with their experiences. One student stated, “I think online courses act as great refresher courses for older adults who want to return to school. Also, online courses are beneficial to adults who work full-time.” This is not surprising and various respondents had similar thoughts. However, it was also notable to have a student write, “My online experience so far has been amazing. I took another course before this one and I thought it was really cool how I was able to finish a class online at my own pace. Since I am a full time student at ECC it gave me a chance to do good in my face to face classes as well as my online class. I would definitely recommend it to students who have a tight schedule.”
This is just a small sample of the information that is available in these reports. Be sure to follow these links to the El Camino College Distance Education Report, as well as the Compton Center Distance Education Report. Results for the El Camino College Distance Education Student Survey Results and the Compton Center Distance Education Student Survey Results are also available on the Institutional Research Website.