My (almost former) college started offering several 8-week online courses in the fall of 2009 that would allow a student to work on 2 courses at a time, for 8 weeks at a time, and still complete the Associate of Arts degree in 2 years. This was one of the outcomes of our Flexible Learning Options action project. The slideshow below contains data about completion rates, grades earned, and student feedback about the 8-week offerings.
- During the 2010 academic year, there were 2,477 enrollments in 8-week online courses and 7,470 enrollments in all other online courses (mostly of the 16-week, full-term variety).
- Students in the 8-week sections completed the courses with a grade of C or better 82.2% of the time, compared to 78.1% for the full-term courses.
- Students in the 8-week sections earned a GPA of 2.93 compared to 2.75 in the full-term courses (looking at GPA in those courses only).
- Students enrolled in summer school and the first 8-weeks of the regular semesters had better completion rates (about 85%) than those registered in either full-term courses (78%) or courses during the second 8 weeks of the regular semesters (75%).
- In year 2 of the offerings, two-thirds of the students said they were aware that they were registering for a shorter course at the time of their registration. This was an increase from 56% in the first year.
One of the main reasons that we implemented the 2-by-8 offerings was to make it more likely that students would complete the course. That appears to be true for those sections offered during the first 8 weeks of a 16-week semester, however it appears to be slightly less likely that they will complete the course if it scheduled for the second 8 weeks of the semester. Someone should be paying attention to this going forward. Just saying.