May 2008: JIME Special Issue: Researching open content in education

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JIME - The Open Learning Initiative: Measuring the Effectiveness of the OLI Statistics Course in Accelerating Student Learning

Marsha Lovett, Oded Meyer, Candace Thille


The Open Learning Initiative (OLI) is an open educational resources project at Carnegie Mellon University that began in 2002 with a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. OLI creates web-based courses that are designed so that students can learn effectively without an instructor. In addition, the courses are often used by instructors to support and complement face-to-face classroom instruction. Our evaluation efforts have investigated OLI courses’ effectiveness in both of these instructional modes – stand-alone and hybrid.

This report documents several learning effectiveness studies that were focused on the OLI-Statistics course and conducted during Fall 2005, Spring 2006, and Spring 2007. During the Fall 2005 and Spring 2006 studies, we collected empirical data about the instructional effectiveness of the OLI-Statistics course in stand-alone mode, as compared to traditional instruction. In both of these studies, in-class exam scores showed no significant difference between students in the stand-alone OLI-Statistics course and students in the traditional instructor-led course. In contrast, during the Spring 2007 study, we explored an accelerated learning hypothesis, namely, that learners using the OLI course in hybrid mode will learn the same amount of material in a significantly shorter period of time with equal learning gains, as compared to students in traditional instruction. In this study, results showed that OLI-Statistics students learned a full semester’s worth of material in half as much time and performed as well or better than students learning from traditional instruction over a full semester.

Editor: Stephen Godwin (Open University, UK).

Reviewers: Tim de Jong (Open University, NL), Elia Tomadaki (Open University, UK), and Stephen Godwin (Open University, UK).

Interactive elements: A demonstration of the StatTutor statistics tutorial is available for playback from . The demonstration is in Flash format.

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