The impact of learner-, instructor-, and course-level factors on online learning

Binbin Zheng*, Chin Hsi Lin, Jemma Bae Kwon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


The number of K-12 students taking online courses has been increasing tremendously over the past few years. However, most research on online learning either compares its overall effectiveness to that of traditional learning, or examines perceptions or interactions using self-reported data; and very few studies have looked into the relationships between the elements of K-12 online courses and their students' learning outcomes. Based on student-, instructor-, and course-level data from 919 students enrolled in eight online high-school English language and literature courses, the results of hierarchical linear modeling and content analysis found that project-based assignments and high-level knowledge activities were beneficial to learning outcomes – though not necessarily among students who took these courses for credit-recovery purposes. The paper also discusses implications for both online course-design practices and future research on predictors of online-learning success.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103851
JournalComputers and Education
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • English language and literature
  • Higher-level knowledge activities
  • K-12 online education
  • Online course design


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