No Significant Difference

About the Database

The No Significant Difference database was first established in 2004 as a companion piece to Thomas L. Russell's book, "The No Significant Difference Phenomenon" (2001, IDECC, fifth edition), a fully indexed, comprehensive research bibliography of 355 research reports, summaries and papers that document no significant differences (NSD) in student outcomes between alternate modes of education delivery.  Redesigned in 2010 and provided as a service of WCET, (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies), a division of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, the database was designed to expand the offerings from the book by providing access to appropriate studies published or discovered after its publication.


This site is intended to function as an ever-growing repository of comparative media studies in education research. Both no significant differences (NSD) and significant differences (SD) studies are constantly being solicited for inclusion in the website. In addition to studies that document no significant difference (NSD), the website includes studies which do document significant differences (SD) in student outcomes based on the mode of education delivery.



Contribute to the Collection

In its new home on the DETA Research website, the database is intended to continue to function as an ever-growing repository of comparative media studies in education research. The current collection is in need of both updates to the current records, as well as the addition of current and emerging research.  As such, both NSD and SD studies are constantly being solicited for inclusion in the website.  If you are interested in assisting as a contributor or editor, contact us.

Records: 210

Online and Hybrid Course Enrollment and Performance in Washington State Community and Technical Colleges


D. Xu

S. Jaggars


This working paper investigates academic outcomes in online, hybrid, and face-to-face courses over five years among students who enrolled in Washington State community and technical colleges in the fall of 2004. Students who were employed for more hours and students who had demographic characteristics associated with stronger academic preparation were more likely to enroll in online courses. Students enrolled in hybrid courses were quite similar to those who enrolled in face-to-face courses. . . . After controlling for student characteristics, results indicated that students were more likely to fail or withdraw from online courses than from face-to-face courses. Students who took online coursework in early terms were also slightly but significantly less likely to return to school in subsequent terms, and students who took a higher proportion of credits online were slightly but significantly less likely to attain an educational award or transfer to a four-year institution. In contrast, students in hybrid courses had similar to those in face-to-face courses. The paper concludes with recommendations for strengthening online supports in order to improve completion rates.


Significant DIfference - Better Results in the Classroom

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The Impact of 'Virtualization' on Independent Study Course Completion Rates: The British Columbia Open University Experiment


L. Giguere


... adopted a visualization strategy based primarily on twinning off-line independent study distance education courses (textbook-based with study guide and telephone and e-mail tutor support) with alternative online versions (textbook-based with integrated conferencing ... In this study we benchmarked successful completion rates (SCRBs) for BCOU's online academic courses and compared those to off-line course benchmarks.  Online SCRBs are consistantly higher than off-line SCRBs.


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