Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Vena M. Long

Committee Members

Lynn L. Hodge, Stephanie O. Robinson, P. Mark Taylor, Morwen Thistlethwaite


This mixed-methods study focused on equity in learning as reflected in the final grades of online and onsite students from the same mathematics course. Onsite students were defined as students who attended regular class sessions. The onsite class did not consist of the professor solely transmitting information. Onsite students were expected to work and discuss problems in the class. Online students only attended an orientation session and a final exam.

Simonson‘s Equivalency Theory (2000) served as the theoretical framework for this study as it promotes an equivalent sum of learning experiences for all students even though their learning environments and learning events may be quite different. Equity of learning between students was defined as learning that is equivalent in value and was measured by final course grades. Final course grades for all online student participants and all onsite student participants were compared statistically to see if there was a significant difference in learning. Statistical tests were also conducted on a number of subsets drawn from all participants‘ final grades in order to search for any underlying differences that might exist and to help answer whether the student need for equity in learning was being met.

This research also focused on whether online mathematics courses are meeting the needs of rural Appalachian students. The strengths of quantitative and qualitative research techniques were utilized to help answer whether the needs of rural Appalachian students are being met by online mathematics classes. Surveys, interviews, field notes, observations, tutoring records, communication records, WebCT reports, student transcripts, and student work provided rich sources of data for this study.

Participants in this study were 24 student volunteers, 18 years old or older, from a mathematics course at Glenville State College during the Spring 2008 semester. The findings of this study revealed no significant differences in online and onsite student final grades, in rural online and rural onsite student final grades, or in rural and nonrural student final grades. Equity of learning occurred among the student groups in this study. Further, the needs of at least some rural Appalachian students are met by online mathematics courses.

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