Online Courses

Question asked from the floor by Dr. John White, FA President:

Do online courses really cost more than in-person courses? If not, why do we still charge online fees for students?

Answered from the floor by Dr. Simon Rhodes, Provost and VP of Academic Affairs:

no fees are charged to Remote Instruction courses but only Distance Learning courses.

Answered from the floor by Dr. Daniel Moon, Professor Academic Affairs Administration:

Dr. Moon confirmed these remarks and noted that, yes, DL courses do cost more than in-person courses insofar as the complex layer of resources that such courses require, e.g., CIRT staff who train faculty and work through technology logistics, funding provided to colleges for DL support (DL coaches and hardware).


Increasing Student Success

Questioner : Anonymous

Question posed to Pamela Chally, Interim Provost and VP of Academic Affairs

Questions are surfacing regarding the choices made by the new administration in their effort to increase student success. Data shows that over the last few years the number of students placed in online classes by the administration has been increasing and, in some cases, have doubled. Classes that in the past had 20-25 students are now being reported to have 50, 60 and 70 students. Please explain how doubling the size of a class, and especially an online class, contributes to increasing student success?

Answer by Pamela Chally, Interim Provost and VP of Academic Affairs

The data show that the average class size for undergraduate DL really hasn’t changed much over the last five years. It was 35.47% in AY13, and in AY18 it was 36.01%, so the size hasn’t really changed. There are a few classes that have deliberately been increased; there’s one in CCEC, there may be a few in Coggin. The one in CCEC specifically has a lead instructor and has a lot of students in it, but it’s a very, very good lead instructor who has support from many distance learning coaches. One last thing I’d say is there isn’t an exact number of how many should be in a class to decide if it’s well done or not well done, but support is very important for that faculty member.

Online Education and Metrics

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David S. Szymanski, UNF President

Once again UNF scored at the bottom of 11 schools on the Board of Governors (BOG) State University System Performance Metrics and once again the metrics on which UNF scored the lowest included student retention and student graduation rates. UNF’s bottom ranking means the loss of tens of millions of dollars in performance-based funding. Correctly the new president has chosen to embrace the metrics and is working to, among other things, increase student retention and reduce the time it takes students to graduate. However is anyone in the new administration giving thought to the prospect that a major of cause of UNF’s low scores in student retention and graduation rate may be UNF’s decision to increase the percent of students in online courses? Under the metrics, each university is permitted to select one goal to be evaluated on (the others are chosen by the BOG). Under the past administration, UNF selected the percent of undergraduate students in online courses as its chosen goal. However, a growing body of education research documents that student retention rates are much lower in online courses (50-70% lower) and lower retention rates mean longer times to graduation. It should therefore not be surprising to think that UNF’s choice to increase online courses as one of its metrics is having an adverse effect on the metrics of retention and time to graduation. Isn’t it time that UNF reevaluate its choice to increase online courses as a metric goal? While online classes are an increasing part of the educational landscape and technology enhanced teaching should not be avoided, no other Florida school has ever selected online courses as its chosen metric. Although an important decision, the choice by UNF to increase online courses was never a strategic one. According to one high-level administrator involved with the decision, the online course metric was chosen because it was considered “low hanging fruit” that UNF could accomplish quickly to increase its metric standing. The decision was also questionable in the face of UNF’s “high-touch” brand of “no one like you and no place like UNF.” Is anyone in the new administration giving thought to the apparent contradiction of UNF’s choice to increase online courses and the consequences of that choice for student retention rates and time to graduation? Has research been conducted to check if student dropout rates at UNF are higher in online courses like research documents? Has research been conducted to determine if UNF’s low retention rates and longer time to graduation are adversely affected by students taking online courses at UNF?

Response from the Floor by President Szymanski

I do not have an answer to all of these questions; however, we are strategically pursuing answers to these questions through our Institutional Research office.