Tabor, Joshua Wayne (2018-09). Effective Online Learning: An Examination of Online Summer School Curriculum at a Suburban Texas High School. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Online learning has become a vital part of post-secondary education. Over one quarter of college students will register for at least one online course each semester they attend school (Smith, 2016). This significant growth in post-secondary education has created a trickle-down effect, shown through the growth of enrollments in secondary online learning programs (Herring, 2016). This fast-paced growth has created a vacuum of research concerning which methods of online learning are the most effective, specifically at the secondary level. Through this mixed methods study, I examined administrators, parents, and students' perspectives on the effectiveness of online learning. I reviewed assignment scores to determine which online teaching methods successfully engaged high school students. Using pre-interviews, observations, and post-interviews, I determined which methods were the most successful in drawing high school students into the learning process. The results showed all stakeholders believe the online learning method can be effective, for many students but not all, when engaging students. Student engagement varied by lessons, but most were engaged in their coursework an average of eight minutes. No matter levels of engagement, all received credit for their work with scores between 90- 100. Using post-interview data, most students found the work to be simple and easy. The lessons that engaged students were short, usually included videos and some level of questioning to make sure the student focused on the lesson. The main difficulty faced was forcing themselves to sit down and complete the work. The results of this study will help school districts understand what attracts high school students' focus and retains their attention in online learning environments, which will help curriculum designers create more focused and effective online curricula.

publication date

  • September 2018