Achievement and Attrition Rate Differences Between Traditional and Internet-Based Beginning Spanish Courses


  • J. Scott Despain

    1. North Carolina State University
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      J. Scott Despain (PhD, Indiana University at Bloomington) is Assistant Professor of Spanish at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina.


Abstract: This paper describes a 2–1/2-year study on of achievement and attrition rate differences between a beginning, university-level Spanish course delivered in the classroom and the same course taught over the Internet. The course was taught face-to-face in a classroom setting to traditionally matriculated students. Each class session was also streamed as a live Webcast via the Internet (and was archived for later delivery) to a section of traditionally matriculated students. In later semesters, sections of Distance Education (nontraditionally matriculated) students were included in the study. Results suggest that (1) current Internet technology can effectively deliver a beginning Spanish language course and, for the motivated student, provide an experience nearly identical to that of the classroom setting; (2) attrition rates were significantly different between the traditional group (low attrition) and the two Internet groups (higher attrition); and (3) achievement scores on hourly tests and final exams, and overall achievement, were not significantly different when comparing students who completed the course. However, when all students who had initially enrolled were included in the analyses, the two Internet groups scored significantly lower than the traditional delivery group.