Distance, online and campus higher education: reflections on learning outcomes

Iain McPhee, Tor Söderström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


– The purpose of this paper is to discuss performance in postgraduate education in Sweden and Scotland. Drawing on two cases, the paper considers three themes: differences in students’ performance by study mode, differences in students’ performance by length of study, and finally comparing performance by study mode between modules in Scotland with an entire programme in Sweden.

– The empirical setting from Scotland builds on an evaluation of online and on‐campus study groups with exactly the same module syllabus. The Swedish setting is also based on an evaluation of distance and on‐campus study groups with exactly the same module syllabus. The data compiled in both countries arise from student performance scores and grades.

– The results indicate that students in both countries foremost use the virtual learning environment (VLE) as a forum for accessing information, to access asynchronous postings in the forums and access streaming‐synchronous online lectures which are also accessed asynchronously in the VLE. The results show that there are no differences between the grades or test scores between campus students with face‐to‐face education and distance students with electronically (VLE) mediated education. These differences and similarities will form the basis of these reflections in this paper.

Research limitations/implications
– The study is limited because the examples given are only a few cases and small samples and there is a need to more rigorously investigate different educational programs in different academic disciplines.

– The paper contributes to quality issues in distance, online and campus education by taking into account, in the first case, different student performance in the same course over a longer period and in the second case, changes over time within the same educational program.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-155
Number of pages12
JournalCampus-Wide Information Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • blended learning
  • summative grades
  • education
  • online education
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • learning methods


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