Study: Online education improves science test scores

Laptop on library desk

Online learning can help students with learning disabilities begin to catch up with their peers, according to a new study.

UO research assistant professor Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes was the lead author of the three-year study, which included more than 2,300 middle school students in Oregon and Georgia. The students whose science learning was enhanced with web-based units improved their test scores by an average of 16.7 percent. Students who studied using textbooks and other traditional methods improved their scores by an average of 5.7 percent.

The online modules used in the study incorporated interactive features such as videos, virtual experiments and educational games into science learning.

Forbes recently published an article about Terrazas-Arellanes’ research.

“These significant findings demonstrate that the online curriculum was effective in improving science knowledge for students who struggle with science,” Terrazas-Arellanes said.

The effect was especially significant for students with learning disabilities. Their test scores, while remaining lower overall, improved by an average of 18 percent.

The test scores of students speaking English as a second language improved by 15 percent.

“Well-designed instructional technology really works to lessen the science literacy gap among diverse groups of learners,” Terrazas-Arellanes said. “Technology offers an engaging and motivating environment for learning, and we are just beginning to understand how we can use it effectively to support students with learning disabilities and English language learners.”

For more, see “Online learning wins out over textbooks in boosting science scores.”

Terrazas-Arellanas works in the UO College of Education’s department of educational methodology, policy and leadership.