Effectiveness of learning in online academic courses compared with face-to-face courses in higher education

Tal Soffer*, Rafi Nachmias

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the effectiveness of 3 online courses compared with the same 3 courses in a face-to-face (F2F) format, which had the same characteristics (e.g., the same instructor and final exam content and place). Effectiveness was examined by utilizing a wide range of variables, including 2 objective measures (N = 968): grades and completion rate; and 9 subjective measures (N = 360): 7 measures include instructional aspects (course structure, learning content, lessons watched, assignments, communication), engagement, and satisfaction. Findings indicate significant differences between online and F2F courses in most of the examined variables. Students in the online courses reported better understanding of the course structure, better communication with the course staff, watching the videos lessens more, and higher engagement and satisfaction. Students in the F2F courses reported better contribution of the learning content. Students' final grades were higher in the online courses, and no differences were found in the completion rate. The findings suggest that in many of the examined effectiveness aspects, online courses are as effective as, or more effective than, F2F courses. Interpretations of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-543
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Learning
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • course effectiveness
  • learning outcomes
  • online courses
  • online learning
  • students' perceptions


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