Date of Award

January 2021

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Department Affiliation

Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership

Second Advisor

Barbara Shoemaker

Department Affiliation


Third Advisor

Treva Gail Macy

Department Affiliation



The purpose of this dissertation is to examine how academic performance of the online learning mode compares with the traditional face-to-face mode in rural community colleges. As online learning has become a popular instructional offering among many rural community college students seeking to advance their opportunities, so has the level of scrutiny. The perception of online courses is to be of lesser academic rigor and quality than their face-to-face counterparts. In this study I will (1) examine the demand for online courses in rural community colleges, (2) explore how state governments are linking community college funding to course success rates, (3) discuss the role course design plays in online success rates, (4) review the prevalent research comparing academic performance between online and face-to-face courses, (5) report on the findings obtained by comparing the performance of online and face-to-face courses.