Previous efforts to summarize differences between traditional and web‐based
training program learning outcomes have been limited by ignoring pre‐training
differences due to non‐random assignment to conditions. In the present meta‐analysis,
pre‐training and post‐training differences between media (traditional, web‐facilitated,
hybrid, and fully online instruction) were summarized across a variety of moderators.
Self‐selection into condition (e.g. college students choosing to take a traditional or
online course according to their preferences) lead to substantial outcome differences
before training begins; trainees choosing online courses know more (d = .19) about the
material on which they are going to be trained than those choosing traditional courses.
This makes interpretation of post‐training outcome differences alone unwise.
To address this, three approaches were taken: 1) pre‐training and post‐training
between‐subject d’s (traditional vs. web‐based instructions) were compared, 2)
traditional and web‐based within‐subject d’s (post‐training vs. pre‐training scores) were
compared, and 3) between‐subject post‐training d’s adjusted by pre‐training differences
for those studies in which self‐selection was present were examined.
These analyses led to several conclusions, including 1) within‐subject outcome
gains are large in comparison to between‐subject differences in media, 2) differences do
exist across criterion type (knowledge, observable skill, problem solving skill, attitudes,
and perception of gain), 3) the effectiveness of web‐based courses in comparison to
traditional courses appears to be changing over time, perhaps as the design of online
courses becomes more sophisticated, 4) the use of learner control in online courses
appears to produce worse outcomes for learners, 5) online courses produce better
outcomes than traditional courses when those courses take place over a longer time
period, and 6) learners self‐selecting into online courses seem to be older and have
greater computer/Internet experience than those self‐selecting into traditional courses.
Areas of e‐learning research needing more primary empirical research are identified,
and suggestions for training design practitioners are discussed.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2009. Major: Psychology. Advisor: Paul R. Sackett. 1 computer file (PDF); xiii, 132 pages.
Landers, Richard Nathaniel.
Traditional, web-based, and hybrid instruction: A comparison of training methods..
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