A Comparative Study of the Accelerated 8-Week and Traditional 16-Week Online Course Formats at a North Carolina Community College

Myra Furr, Gardner-Webb University


The purpose of this study was to compare student success and completion rates of the traditional 16-week online semester course length to the accelerated 8-week online semester course length at a North Carolina community college. As online programs grow and the school looks to increase course offerings, research was conducted to determine if students are as successful in the 8-week course as they are in the 16-week course.

This research was a quantitative comparative study, which compared the results of student success and completion rates in 1 humanities course and 1 social science course from fall 2010 through spring 2011. Specifically, the results examined the role of semester length as it pertains to student performance and completion.

Descriptive statistics show that students in the 16-week online courses have a slightly higher success rate than students in the 8-week online courses; however, students in the 8-week online courses had a higher completion rate than students in the 16-week classes. ANOVA analyses show no statistical significant difference in success and completion rate for students in the 8-week versus the 16-week online course formats.