Face-to-Face Versus Online Tutorial Support in Distance Education: Preference, Performance, and Pass Rates in Students with Disabilities

Richardson, John T. E. (2016). Face-to-Face Versus Online Tutorial Support in Distance Education: Preference, Performance, and Pass Rates in Students with Disabilities. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 29(1) pp. 83–90.

Abstract

This study examined the experiences of students taking the same courses in the humanities by distance learning when tutorial support was provided conventionally (using limited face-to-face sessions with some contact by telephone and email) or online (using a combination of computer-mediated conferencing and email). The results showed that, given a choice between face-to-face and online tutorial support, students with and without disabilities were equally likely to choose online support rather than face-to-face support. There were no significant differences in the reasons given by students with and without disabilities for choosing online rather than face-to-face support, although there was a nonsignificant tendency for students with disabilities to refer to “another reason” (including disablement or chronic illness) as a reason for choosing online support. Students with and without disabilities obtained similar grades for their courses, and this was true regardless of whether they had chosen face-to-face or online support. Students with and without disabilities were also equally likely to pass their courses, regardless of whether they had chosen face-to-face or online support. Even so, there was a nonsignificant tendency for students with disabilities to achieve a lower pass rate than students without disabilities with face-to-face support, whereas with online support their pass rate was marginally higher than that of students without disabilities.

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