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      Face-to-face or face-to-screen? Undergraduates' opinions and test performance in classroom vs. online learning

      Frontiers in Psychology
      Frontiers Media S.A.
      online learning, e-learning, face-to-face learning, university, discussion forums

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          As electronic communication becomes increasingly common, and as students juggle study, work, and family life, many universities are offering their students more flexible learning opportunities. Classes once delivered face-to-face are often replaced by online activities and discussions. However, there is little research comparing students' experience and learning in these two modalities. The aim of this study was to compare undergraduates' preference for, and academic performance on, class material and assessment presented online vs. in traditional classrooms. Psychology students ( N = 67) at an Australian university completed written exercises, a class discussion, and a written test on two academic topics. The activities for one topic were conducted face-to-face, and the other online, with topics counterbalanced across two groups. The results showed that students preferred to complete activities face-to-face rather than online, but there was no significant difference in their test performance in the two modalities. In their written responses, students expressed a strong preference for class discussions to be conducted face-to-face, reporting that they felt more engaged, and received more immediate feedback, than in online discussion. A follow-up study with a separate group ( N = 37) confirmed that although students appreciated the convenience of completing written activities online in their own time, they also strongly preferred to discuss course content with peers in the classroom rather than online. It is concluded that online and face-to-face activities can lead to similar levels of academic performance, but that students would rather do written activities online but engage in discussion in person. Course developers could aim to structure classes so that students can benefit from both the flexibility of online learning, and the greater engagement experienced in face-to-face discussion.

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          Most cited references18

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          Student Engagement and Student Learning: Testing the Linkages*

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            Face-to-face or Facebook: Can social connectedness be derived online?

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              New Benchmarks in Higher Education: Student Engagement in Online Learning


                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                12 November 2014
                : 5
                : 1278
                Discipline of Psychology, School of Medicine, University of Tasmania Hobart, TAS, Australia
                Author notes

                Edited by: Nicola Pitchford, University of Nottingham, UK

                Reviewed by: Jessica S. Dunn, University of Nottingham, Malaysia; Michelle Drouin, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, USA

                *Correspondence: Nenagh Kemp, Division of Psychology, School of Medicine, University of Tasmania, Locked Bag 30, Hobart 7001, TAS, Australia e-mail: nenagh.kemp@ 123456utas.edu.au

                This article was submitted to Educational Psychology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

                Copyright © 2014 Kemp and Grieve.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 29 August 2014
                : 22 October 2014
                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 4, Equations: 0, References: 36, Pages: 11, Words: 9355
                Original Research Article

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                online learning,e-learning,face-to-face learning,university,discussion forums


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