All previous studies comparing online and face-to-face format for instruction of economics compared courses that were either online or face-to-face format and regressed exam scores on selected student characteristics. This approach is subject to the econometric problems of self-selection omitted unobserved variables. Our study uses two methods to deal with these problems. First we eliminate self-selection bias by using students from a course that uses both instruction formats. Second, we use the exam questions as the unit of observation, and eliminate omitted variable bias by using an indicator variable for each student to capture the effect of differences in unobserved student characteristics on learning outcomes. We report the finding that students had a significantly greater chance of answering a question correctly if it came from a chapter covered online.
Harmon, Oskar R. and Lambrinos, James, "Student Performance in Traditional vs. Online Format: Evidence from an MBA Level Introductory Economics Class" (2007). Economics Working Papers. Paper 200703.