(This form must be signed and submitted with the finished copies of the
Name___________Todd J. Vatalaro____________Group No.__H7701__
The College of Professional Studies has permission to use my research
proposal as example of acceptable work. This authority includes the right to
duplicate the manuscript as well as check out the proposal from one of the
The College of Professional Studies may not use my research proposal as an
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A Study of the Comparison between Distance
Education and Traditional Education
A Proposal Submitted
Todd J. Vatalaro
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for
The Bachelor of Science Degree
In Organizational Behavior
The University of San Francisco
College of Professional Studies
November 23, 2002
Evaluation of Research by USF Faculty
Student Name____Todd J. Vatalaro___________________
Proposal Title A Study of the Comparison between Distance Education and
Research Proposal Evaluation
Meets Minimum Standards ______
Date USF Faculty
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction p. 1-5
Problem Statement 6
Research Question to be Answered 6
Statement of Research Objective 6
Definition of Terms 7
Importance of the Study 7
Scope and Delimitations of the Study 7
Chapter 2: Review of the Literature p. 8-11
Chapter 3: Methodology p. 12-15
Research Design 14
Operational Definitions 14
Treatment of Data 15
References p. 16-16
1. Title: A Study of the Comparison Between Web-based Education and
Traditional Classroom Education.
2. Statement of the Problem: Today distance education has become a
popular means for organizations and educational institutions to expand the
means of teaching to its employees and students. The problem is that
more research needs to be done to determine if web-based education is
as effective as traditional education. Web-based programs are designed to
provide education that is equal to or better than the traditional classroom.
Typically these courses are never evaluated to determine their
effectiveness. The goal of this study was to determine if web-based
education is better, worse, or as good as traditional education.
3. Research Objectives: To Investigate if Web-Based is as equal as
4. Brief Statement of Research Method: From a population of 3 schools in
Sacramento, California, one hundred (18 to 25) year old females were
chosen to take the same course. (50) would take the class in the
traditional way and (50) would take a web-based course.
5. Resources Needed and Available: Approval from Los Rios Community
College District and advice from the dean of the History department;
collection and comparison of the test scores; budget of $500.
6. Projected Start and Completion Date: One full Fall, academic semester.
No dates available at this time.
Background of the Problem
What is was based learning? Web-based learning is course work that is
taken over the Internet. Web-based education used to be called correspondence
studies. These courses were offered through various forms of media like the mail,
cable television broadcast and video. What is distance learning today? Some of
the older techniques are still in existence. However, it now comprises of internet-
based courses, video conferencing, streaming video and audio (Killion, 2000).
Distance education has been around since the written language. Major
universities have utilized correspondence study courses since the 1890s to
provide off-campus learning opportunities for millions of adults. In the sixties, a
team of Wisconsin extension consultants helped Great Britain develop off-
campus teaching systems needed to establish the British Open University.
Arguably, the invention of television and video recording had the most profound
influence on distance learning in the 1950’s. In the 1980's broadcast television
was changing with the advent of satellite and cable programming services. To
respond to the shift in technology, satellite television networks were being
created that would deliver training and instruction.
Large corporations like IBM and Kodak recognized the benefit from
providing training using satellite transmissions. The Department of Defense also
invested heavily into all branches of the military to set up a satellite networks for
training purposes. By serving their members at a distance, time and money could
be saved long-term by reducing the amount of travel and loss of work hours of an
Arguably the most significant advancement in distance education took
place with the introduction of the Internet and web sites. The roots of the Internet
lie in a joint project developed by the United States military and the Rand
Corporation. The project was called ARPANET. The goal of the ARPANET was
to allow US authorities to communicate with one another in the aftermath of a
During the 1960’s all forms of communication went through a hub, or
centralized location. A foe of the United States could attack these centralized
locales, bringing all communication to an end. Communication networks of the
day were chained point-to-point, with each place on the network dependent on
the link before it. If one point in the network were disabled, the whole network
would become useless. As the saying goes, “a chain is only as strong as its
Living with the threat of a nuclear war prompted a new way of looking at
communications in America. America needed to develop a communication
system that would allow defense branches of the United States government to
stay in contact with one another in case of a national emergency. The project
was known as ARPANET. The United States government would spend millions of
dollars on ARPANET.
The cold war network project ARPANET successfully connected various
computer systems across America. The ARPANET project continued for years
and was gradually phased out after it was declared complete and the Cold War
Scientist and engineers were allowed access to the existing ARPANET
networks. This allowed scientists and engineers to communicate and share
information across numerous universities. Scientists and engineers were amazed
and excited about this new, revolutionary way of communicating. They
continually improved and modernized this network. The network grew as new
schools and government agency would connect their computer systems to this
Many different protocols and computer languages were also being
developed. Organizations and scientists began to argue over what would be
defined as the “standard.” Everyone was convinced that his or her way of
computing and networking was superior. One protocol that was gaining a
foothold was TCP/IP. TCP/IP is a networking protocol that is robust enough to
handle the high volume of information being transferred over the network. TCP/IP
also allowed different computer systems to communicate with one another.
With TCP/IP, a global network was becoming a reality. Universities and scientists
from America and Britain successfully were communicating and exchanging data
with one another.
Initially, use of the Internet was mostly limited to e-mail and newsgroups.
In 1991, the University of Minnesota came up with an easy way to organize
information called Gopher, the predecessor to the World Wide Web.
Gopher, using a series of menus, was soon used to organize all kinds of
information stored on servers in universities, libraries, and government agencies.
But what came to be known as "gopherspace" was very chaotic and time
consuming. Search utilities within Gopher, such as Archie and Veronica, were
helpful but didn’t even come close to the efficiency of the search engines we
In the early 1990's the United States government decided to release use
of the Internet to the public an opened it up for commercial activity. Also during
this period Apple and IBM were introducing low cost consumer computers. These
two events would ignite an economic firestorm that would permanently change
the way people did business. Internet use was growing by more than 10 percent
The early 80’s ARPANET had only about four hundred hosts. In 1990
there were over one hundred thousand. With the introduction of the Internet also
came the mass use of e-mail. E-mail is an abbreviation for electronic mail, an
electronic means for communication. People from all around the world were now
able to send messages and correspond with one another instantly.
The Internet was exploding in excitement, and its success would become
a catalyst for new and improved methods of distance learning. Professionals in
the field of distance education say that the personal computer and the Internet
reinvented the face of education and how students learn at a distance. Current
estimates suggest that over four million computers are part of the Internet.
Statement of the Problem
Today web-based education has become a popular means for
organizations and educational institutions to expand the means of teaching its
employees and students. The problem is that more research needs to be done to
determine if web-based education is as effective as traditional classroom
education. Web-based programs are designed to provide education that is equal
too or better than the traditional classroom. Typically these courses are never
evaluated to determine their effectiveness. The goal of this study was to
determine if web-based courses are better, worse, or as good as traditional
Research Question to be Answered
Is web-based education better, worse, or as good as traditional classroom
Statement of Research Objective
The research objective is to investigate whether web-based education is
as effective as a traditional classroom education. Today web-based education is
offered in nearly every higher education institution. Its popularity has raised
questions about its credibility. This study will provide a way to document and
measure students multiple question test scores to determine if web-based
education is as effective as classroom face-to-face education.
Definition of Terms
Independent variable: Web-based Education vs. Traditional Education.
Dependent variable: Test scores.
Importance of the Study
This research study is important to institutions and organizations that are
expecting that web-based education is as effective as traditional education.
Scope and Delimitation of the Study
This study selected subjects that were enrolled at three junior colleges in
Sacramento, California. Subjects were required to complete an introduction to
The findings of this study are limited in scope, as it is focused on the
comparison of a web-based and education and traditional education History
class. Due to the increasing use of web-based distance education in America,
this study was intended to see if web-based education is better, worse or as good
as traditional class room education.
Review of Related Literature
This chapter will look at other studies in the field of web-based education. In the
review of literature related to web-based education, the research focused on
web-based education vs. traditional education, to help determine if web-based
education is better, worse or as good as traditional education. For the purpose of
this study, the primary focus of the research is student post-test scores, and final
grades to help evaluate the two groups.
Web-based is becoming a more vital part of the higher education family.
Just about every American university offers online web-base courses. This form
of distance education reaches a broader student audience, better addresses
student needs like transportation, saves money, and more importantly uses the
principles of modern learning pedagogy (Fitzpatrick, 2001).
The most significant impact on adult learning over the past few years has
been online web-based distance learning. Early research indicates that online
learning is at least as effective as learning in conventional classrooms, a studies
summarized by the Center for Excellence in Distance Learning report that
technology has a positive impact on learning effectiveness. (Killion, 2000).
However according to Robbie Fitzpatrick (2001), technology also has a
negative effect on the distance learner. Case in point, a study of student
frustration with web-based courses maintains, “the literature about distance
education is dominated by enthusiastic studies and accounts.”
A research study by Rhonda Brady (2002) states the first obstacle that educators
and students face with online courses is the fact that everyone taking the course
is not on the same technological level. The first primary objective is to come up
with ways to help facilitate the teaching of the actual technology needed before
they can even get to the course offered. Only 10% to 15% of all articles published
about online educations by 1991 were research studies. So up to this point in the
history of distance education researches are beginning to look at the possible
problems that relate to this form of education.
Dan Carnevale (2002) brings up another issue in web-based education,
accreditation. Accrediting officials are trying to determine how to evaluate
web-based programs that let students gain credit via online instruction.
In a recent issue of Distance Education System Wide Interactive
Electronic Newsletter Volume 6.3 March (2001) looked at ways to create
assessment tools for distance education. Susan B. Miller, Director, University of
Wisconsin set out to modify existing “Classroom Assessment Techniques”
(CATs) to help faculty assess distance education courses. Miller also shares
online web-base resources with instructors interested in leveraging the innovative
technologies in the field of distance education. The material on these websites
allows instructors to use assessment tools and guidelines that will help to give
them methods that are effective but not time-consuming. Tools like: articulation
specification of the strategies intended to achieve these goals and the reason
that these strategies are expected to be effective; agreement on the evidence
that will convince specified individuals that the strategies have achieved the
goals; and the gathering, interpretation, and the use of information.
As Kouzez and Posner (2002) put it, “The key to success and perhaps
even survival in the next century- for all of us, but for the leaders especially-is the
familiar expression “lifelong learning.” As researchers and educators get more
involved in the uses for web-based education and how to overcome the barriers
to learning, we will continue to see improvements in the delivery of curriculum,
course materials and proper assessment.
The literature reviewed suggests considerable research has found that
successful distance-learning students tend to be highly motivated, self-disciplined
and are generally older than traditional students. The literature reviewed also
concludes that there are no significant differences found between pre-test scores,
homework grades, research paper grades and final test scores of distance
learning students and traditional students.
Nevertheless, there were significant differences between the two groups with
regard to age, post test scores and final exam scores.
This study, provides data and analysis on students of distance learning
and those of traditional learning, based on and post-testing comparisons.
This study will attempt to answer the question is web-based education: better,
worse, or as good as traditional face-to-face classroom education.
This study will attempt to contribute the following question: Is web-based
education better than traditional education?
The research objective is to (measure, compare, investigate) student test
scores in relation to web-based education and traditional education.
For this study the participants were (100) undergraduate students enrolled
in Introduction to History classes at a small sized community college in
Sacramento, California. The university offers AA degrees in liberal arts and GE
transferable units to both UC and USC institutions. The Introduction to History
was designed to develop an understanding of basic History. A multiple-choice
test was developed to determine the level of understanding of basic History. One
hundred students were enrolled in the same Fall semester. Fifty students would
attend the traditional on-campus classroom and the other fifty students would
take the same web-based online course via the Internet. Both groups were
female and were 18-25 years old. These students were free to choose to take
the traditional class or the online web-base class. These courses had identical:
content, timelines, guidelines and material.
Both web-based and traditional classes had the same instructor, studied the
same course content, used the same course materials, completed the same
assignments, and were allotted the same time frame for completion of
assignments. All were given the same (post-test), final exam. The multiple choice
post-test was designed, by the instructor.
A quasi-experimental research design was used to collect data for the study. An
analysis of co-variance was used to compare the two variables. The significant
element of quasi-experiments is the measure of the dependent variable, which it
allows for comparison. In such cases, quasi-experimentation often involves a
number of strategies to compare subjectivity, such as rating data, testing,
surveying, and content analysis. This research looked at testing results. Once all
the test scores were collected it was time to test and see if there was a significant
differences between web-base and traditional education test scores.
The researcher used the Mann-Whitney U test method for this data. Using
the Mann-Whitney U the researchers were able to test the frequency of
occurrence within these to independent categories.
This study is the comparison of distance education compared to traditional
The independent variable in this study is distance education vs. traditional
education. Students will attend these classes that will be facilitated by the
instructor chosen for this study. Web-based distance education is learning that
occurs when learner and instructor are separated by time and space and is not
real-time. Web -base instruction is a formalized teaching system specifically
designed to be carried out remotely over the Internet. Traditional education
involves internal students attending resident classes conducted by faculty
members on a campus and requires a physical face-to-face interaction.
The dependent variable is test scores.
The research instrument used for this study will be a multiple-choice test
with 100 questions.
The researchers worked with the dean of the History department and the
instructor of the courses. Test scores from (100) subjects were compared. This
study had approval from Los Rios Community College. Once all the test scores
were collected by the instructor the researcher was able to obtain copies of the
original tests given back to the instructor. Age and ethnicity was obtained to look
at the demographic variables.
Treatment of Data
The data from the tests will be reviewed and examined for comparison.
The collected nominal data will be analyzed using the chi-square. Using the chi-
square the researchers were able to test the frequency of occurrence within
these to independent categories.
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