A Comparative Analysis of Traditional and Online Lab Science Transfer Courses in the Rural Community College
Through distance learning, the community college system has moved beyond geographical boundaries to serve all students and provide educational opportunities at a distance to individuals previously out of reach of the college community. With the inception of the Mississippi Virtual Community College (MSVCC) in January 2000, Mississippi’s public community colleges have experienced unprecedented growth in online enrollments and online course offerings to include the laboratory sciences; however, transfer of online lab science courses are problematic for individuals who wish to gain admittance to Medical, Dental, and Pharmacy schools in Mississippi. Currently online lab science courses are not accepted for transfer for students seeking admission to Mississippi Medical, Dental, or Pharmacy schools. The need for this study, the statement of the problem, and the purpose of the study address transfer issues related to the transfer of online lab science courses in Mississippi and the impact of such on the student and community college. The study also addresses existing doubts regarding online course delivery as a viable method of lab science delivery. The purpose of the study was to investigate differences between online instructional delivery as compared to traditional face-to-face delivery with the following research questions to: 1. Investigate the perception of quality of online courses as compared to traditional face-to-face courses. 2. Investigate the difference in student performance in online transfer lab science courses as compared to student performance in traditional face-to-face lab science courses. The results of this 13 semester study show significant differences in both perception of quality and student performance between online instructional delivery as compared to traditional face-to-face delivery. The findings demonstrate a need for Mississippi Dental, Medical, and Pharmacy schools to re-examine the articulation agreement between IHL and Community and Junior Colleges and consider accepting online lab sciences courses taken at the community college as transfer for admission to Medical, Dental, and Pharmacy schools. Conclusions are included in the study; however, additional studies are needed to address the issue of student performance in the online lab science classroom.