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What Makes the Difference? A Practical Analysis of Research on the Effectiveness of Distance Education


by Yong Zhao, Jing Lei, Bo Yan, Chun Lai & Sophia Tan — 2005

This article reports findings of a meta-analytical study of research on distance education. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that affect the effectiveness of distance education. The results show that although the aggregated data of available studies show no significant difference in outcomes between distance education and face-to-face education as previous research reviews suggest, there is remarkable difference across the studies. Further examination of the difference reveals that distance education programs, just like traditional education programs, vary a great deal in their outcomes, and the outcome of distance education is associated with a number of pedagogical and technological factors. This study led to some important data-driven suggestions for and about distance education.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 8, 2005, p. 1836-1884
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12098, Date Accessed: 6/27/2017 8:23:53 PM

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About the Author
  • Yong Zhao
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    YONG ZHAO is a professor in the Learning, Technology, and Culture Program in the College of Education at Michigan State University. His research interests include educational uses of technology, online/distance education, and innovation diffusions. His recent publications include “Technology Uses in Schools: An Ecological Perspective” (American Educational Research Journal, 2003, with K. Frank) and an edited volume, What Should Teachers Know about Technology: Perspectives and Practices (Information Age, 2003).
  • Jing Lei
    Michigan State University
    JING LEI is a doctoral candidate in the Learning, Technology, and Culture Program in the College of Education at Michigan State University. Her dissertation concerns conditions for effective technology use by students.
  • Bo Yan
    Michigan State University
    BO YAN is a doctoral student in the Learning, Technology, and Culture Program in the College of Education at Michigan State University.
  • Chun Lai
    Michigan State University
    CHUN LAI is a doctoral student in the Learning, Technology, and Culture Program in the College of Education at Michigan State University.
  • Sophia Tan
    Coastal Carolina University
    SOPHIA TAN is an assistant professor in the Professional Program in Teacher Education at Coastal Carolina University.
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