Abstract

Our paper asks the question: Does mode of instruction format (live or online format) effect test scores in the principles of macroeconomics classes? Our data are from several sections of principles of macroeconomics, some in live format, some in online format, and all taught by the same instructor. We find that test scores for the online format, when corrected for sample selection bias, are four points higher than for the live format, and the difference is statistically significant. One possible explanation for this is that there was slightly higher human capital in the classes that had the online format. A Oaxaca decomposition of this difference in grades was conducted to see how much was due to human capital and how much was due to the differences in the rates of return to human capital. This analysis reveals that 25% of the difference was due to the higher human capital with the remaining 75% due to differences in the returns to human capital. It is possible that for the relatively older student with the appropriate online learning skill set, and with schedule constrains created by family and job, the online format provides them with a more productive learning environment than does the alternative traditional live class format. Also, because our data are limited to the student s academic transcript, we recommend future research include data on learning style characteristics, and the constraints formed by family and job choices.

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