CCE Theses and Dissertations

A Comparative Study of Achievement of Students in a Distance Learning Second Language Class and in a Traditional Classroom Second Language Class

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Laurie Dringus

Committee Member

Maxine S. Cohen


This study was a comparative analysis of student achievement in writing proficiency by students enrolled in a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) E-School (DES) second language course of Advanced Placement (AP) German and by students enrolled in a like DoDEA traditional course. Criteria for subject selection was enrollment in a SY2001-2002 DoDEA AP German course with no previous enrollment in a DoDEA distance learning course.

The distance learning and traditional groups had 20 subjects each.

A pre-test-post-test quasi-experimental design was used. The null hypothesis was applied, stating that the distance learning students would demonstrate achievement comparable to that of traditional students. Treatment was administered by AP German teachers at Heidelberg High School, Germany, Patch High School, Germany, and the DES. Student achievement in writing proficiency was determined by post-study essay scores. Validity and reliability were established for the rubrics-based assessment instrument. The AP German teachers evaluated the essays.

The study period was 10 weeks with nine weeks of instruction and one week of vacation. All subjects wrote a pre-study essay at the beginning of the study period, experienced instruction in a specified curriculum during the study period, and wrote a post-study essay. All essays were converted to a standard format for evaluation. Gender, grade level, and grade point average (GPA) data were examined to determine homogeneity of the populations, with results showing no significant difference between the groups with regard to these factors. Statistical treatment of data revealed no significant difference for pre-study essays between the two populations. Analysis of pre-study and post study scores for each of the populations revealed a significant gain in writing proficiency for both populations. Analysis of post-study essay scores revealed no significant difference between the two populations. The null hypothesis failed to be rejected. Further analysis of student achievement and GP A established a weak correlation that was statistically significant at the .05 alpha level. Recommendations included rigorous research to establish the impact of distance learning courses on student achievement, research in the area of distance delivered second(foreign) language instruction, and research to' explore effective pedagogies and instructional strategies for distance learning technologies.

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