Exploring the Impact of Student-, Instructor-, and Course-level Factors on Student Learning in Online English Language and Literature Courses

Published on February 12, 2018

Modified on December 11, 2020


Exploring the Impact of Student-, Instructor-, and Course-level Factors on Student Learning in Online English Language and Literature CoursesThe number of K-12 students taking online courses has increased tremendously over the past few years. However, while most current research in online learning focuses either on comparing its overall effectiveness with traditional learning or examining perceptions or interactions using self-reported data, scant research has looked into online design elements and students’ learning outcome in K-12 settings. This report seeks to explore how the combination of three main online education components—student, instructor, and course design—contribute to students’ online learning success in high school English language and literature courses.

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Written By
  • BinBin Zheng – Michigan State University
What we already know
  • Mixed findings were reported regarding the effectiveness of online language courses.
  • Key obstacles in online language learning include the lack of sufficient interactions, immediate feedback, and technology training.
  • Self-reported online interactions significantly predicted students’ academic achievement.
What this report adds
  • Project-based assignments were beneficial for all students in online English language courses.
  • Text-based learning resources, such as instructor guides, helped students gain better learning outcomes at the end of the semester.
  • Engaging students in more low-level knowledge activities, such as remembering, had a negative impact on their learning outcomes.
  • Giving students autonomy in their own learning, promoting discussion and feedback exchange, and strengthening students’ sense of audience and authorship were of vital importance to students’ success with online language learning.
Implications for practice and/or policy
  • Course designers could consider incorporating project-based assignments in online language courses, which usually involve higher-level knowledge skills (e.g., analyze, evaluate, and create), as it may increase students’ learning outcomes.
  • Online teachers and course designers should not use the online discussion board simply as a platform for submitting written assignments; instead, it should be fully explored to maximize its affordance for interaction and feedback exchange.
  • Online instructors or course designers could consider including more text-mapping or organizers to better scaffold students’ reading comprehension and writing process in English language courses.

Limited Course Capacity

We’re sorry to inform you that we have reached capacity for several of our Semester 1 and Trimester 1 courses. You’ll notice when attempting to enroll students in our Student Learning Portal that some courses are unavailable. While we are no longer accepting new enrollments for these courses at this time, many courses continue to remain open for enrollment.

With many students across the state 100% remote, demand for our online courses is greater than ever before. Because every course we offer is taught by a Michigan-certified teacher, this high volume of enrollments has created capacity issues for our teachers who provide each and every student with individual feedback.

While the Michigan Virtual team anticipated and planned for significant increases in student enrollments this Fall, the increased demand we’ve experienced has been unprecedented. As a result, we are taking steps to hire even more part-and full-time teachers to support larger numbers of student enrollments for Semester 2 as well as for Trimester 2 and 3. 

For schools that still need online learning options this year, please fill out the form at the bottom of our virtual pathways page to meet with someone to discuss other solutions. While some of our teacher-led courses are full, we may still have the capacity to help you in upcoming terms or can discuss timing to implement a whole-school or collaborative program in which local teachers from your school/district use our online course content to teach students. We also have free course content and resources available for you to use.

We know this is an incredibly stressful time for all, and we’re sorry if the courses you’re looking for are unavailable. We never want to turn away a student who wants to learn from us. Our top concern, however, is student success, and we have a policy to not take on additional enrollments if we cannot guarantee that all students will have a quality online learning experience. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the unusually high volume of enrollments we are receiving.