study report: Interactive Learning Online

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) reviewed the report  “Interactive Learning Online at Public Universities: Evidence from a Six-Campus Randomized Trial”  and concluded that the study "meets WWC (What Works Clearinghouse) group design standards without reservations".  The review can be accessed at


What is this study about?

The study investigated the effect of interactive learning online (ILO), a form of online course instruction in which computer-guided instruction substitutes for some, though not all, traditional face-to-face instruction. The study used data from 605 students enrolled in an introductory statistics courses at six public university campuses—two each from the State University of New York (SUNY); the City University of New York (CUNY) system; and the University of Maryland system.

Of the 605 students in the study, 313 were randomly assigned to hybrid ILO course sections, and the other 292 students were randomly assigned to sections taught via traditional face-to-face instruction. Based on data provided by the participating universities, the study authors examined the impact of ILO on the course pass rate (i.e., course completion with a passing grade).

What did the study find?

Pass rates in both the intervention and comparison course sections were similar (80% vs. 76%, respectively). There was no statistically significant difference between these rates.


Bowen, W. G., Chingos, M. M., Lack, K. A., & Nygren, T. I. (2013). Interactive learning online at public universities: Evidence from a six-campus randomized trial. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 33(1), 94–111.