The Department of Education’s analysis pointed to blended learning–a combination of online and in-class instruction–as the most effective teaching method, which has since been echoed by the findings of Marc Loudon, a professor of medicinal chemistry at Purdue University, who once doubted the effectiveness of online coursework. Loudon examined the performance of 226 organic chemistry students in fall 2009. Those that engaged in online homework on top of their class lectures and textbook homework had a full-grade higher average than their peers who studied without the aid of the online tool.
Loudon, who authored the textbook but had no hand in the creation of the online material, checked to see if the students who did the extra work online were more driven, or perhaps better students overall, but found no correlation between their organic chemistry grades and those they’d previously received in general chemistry. “Students are highly engaged when they work online because they get instant feedback,” he says. “The degree of benefit surprised me–I hate to admit it. The study convinced me of something that I didn’t believe would happen.”