Comparison of Motivation and Learning Outcome Achievement in Shortened, Online Summer Courses versus Their Full-Term Counterparts

Bethany Simunich


This study examined student motivation and learning outcome achievement in shortened summer online courses when compared to their full-term online counterparts. Two courses were examined—a science course and a humanities course—each of which was taught as a full semester (15- week), fall term asynchronous online course and a shortened (5-week) summer term asynchronous online course. Both courses were designed with the assistance of an instructional designer and met design standards through an informal Quality Matters review. Further, both versions of each course were taught by the same professors who had both participated in online teacher training. The two versions of each course was identical in terms of content, assignments, layout, and rigor. In sum, this study held constant the variables of instructional design, instructor, and course content, and only course length was isolated as an independent variable. Student achievement of learning outcomes was measured by final course grades, single grades on a major project, and a post-course knowledge test. Motivation was measured using standard questions selected from the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire. Results from 133 students in the full semester fall offerings and 66 students in the shortened summer offerings reveal that learning outcome achievement and motivation have no statistically significant difference when comparing course length or course term.

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