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Virtual Classrooms: How Online College Courses Affect Student Success


  • Eric P. Bettinger
  • Lindsay Fox
  • Susanna Loeb
  • Eric S. Taylor


Online college courses are a rapidly expanding higher education feature, yet little research identifies their effects relative to traditional in-person classes. Using an instrumental variables approach, we find that taking a course online, instead of in-person, reduces student success and progress.

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  • Eric P. Bettinger & Lindsay Fox & Susanna Loeb & Eric S. Taylor, "undated". "Virtual Classrooms: How Online College Courses Affect Student Success," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 8841fb61efb847c4af9da05b0, Mathematica Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:mpr:mprres:8841fb61efb847c4af9da05b05d40799

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    1. Rajeev Darolia & Cory Koedel & Paco Martorell & Katie Wilson & Francisco Perez‐Arce, 2015. "Do Employers Prefer Workers Who Attend For‐Profit Colleges? Evidence from a Field Experiment," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 34(4), pages 881-903, September.
    2. Coates, Dennis & Humphreys, Brad R. & Kane, John & Vachris, Michelle A., 2004. ""No significant distance" between face-to-face and online instruction: evidence from principles of economics," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 533-546, October.
    3. Cellini, Stephanie Riegg & Chaudhary, Latika, 2014. "The labor market returns to a for-profit college education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 125-140.
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    1. repec:eee:ireced:v:28:y:2018:i:c:p:1-10 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Cacault, M. Paula & Hildebrand, Christian & Laurent-Lucchetti, Jérémy & Pellizzari, Michele, 2019. "Distance Learning in Higher Education: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 12298, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. repec:spr:reihed:v:59:y:2018:i:7:d:10.1007_s11162-017-9490-y is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:spr:reihed:v:60:y:2019:i:2:d:10.1007_s11162-018-9507-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:bla:coecpo:v:36:y:2018:i:4:p:667-677 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:jtc:journl:v:2:y:2018:i:2:p:104-114 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Higher Education; Research Institutions; Returns to Education;

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education

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