Comparing conventional, hybrid, and distance learning courses in horticulture

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In a conventional sophomore level course entitled “Organic Farming and Gardening,” 114 undergraduate students registered from years 2007 to 2009. Due to high demand and insufficient classroom space, this conventional curriculum was reformatted with identical course content into both a hybrid and a fully online version in which 361 students registered from years 2010 to 2012 and 336 students from 2013 to 2015. In comparing conventional instruction with hybrid and fully online versions over a 9-year period, few significant differences were found in final grades involving 811 students. Final class grade averages of these three learning systems ranged from 85.5% to 89.6% over their first 3-year spans. Over their 6-year span, the conventional class average of 89.6% was higher compared with 88.3% for the hybrid format and 86.8% for the online format. Student evaluation surveys assessed faculty performance with eight evaluative questions on a 1 to 5 scale from years 2012 to 2014. No significant difference existed between teaching in person vs. remotely, averaging 4.35 for the hybrid and 4.17 for the online. An additional eight questions measured educational methodology, technology, student confidence, and class satisfaction. There were no significant differences in comparing the combined averages of 4.12 for the hybrid format and 4.00 for the online version. Student responses indicated a significant preference overall for hybrid and online course formats compared with conventional methods. Registration numbers indicated an overwhelming choice for online education with an average class enrollment of 91.0 students compared with 38.0 students for conventional classes and 25.2 students for the hybrid format.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-682
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Horticulture


  • Computer-assisted instruction
  • Distance education
  • Horticultural education
  • Hybrid courses
  • Online learning
  • Student assessment
  • Teaching methods
  • Web-based pedagogy
  • e-College


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