Efficacy of an Asynchronous Online Preparatory Chemistry Course: A Post-hoc Analysis

In an ongoing effort to increase student retention and success in the undergraduate general chemistry course sequence, a fully online preparatory chemistry course was developed and implemented at a large public research university. To gain insight about the efficacy of the online course, post-hoc analyses were carried out in which student performance on final exams, and performance in the subsequent general chemistry course were compared between the online cohort and a previous student cohort who completed the preparatory chemistry course in a traditional lecture format. Because the retention of less academically prepared students in STEM majors is a historical problem at the institution in which the online preparatory chemistry course was implemented, post-hoc analyses were also carried out to determine if this at-risk group demonstrated similar achievement relative to the population at large. Multiple linear regression analyses were used to compare final exam scores and general chemistry course grades between the online and in-person student cohorts, while statistically controlling for incoming student academic achievement. Results from these analyses suggest the fully online course led to increased final exam scores in the preparatory course (unstandardized B = 8.648, p < 0.001) and higher grades in the subsequent general chemistry course (unstandardized B = 0.269, p < 0.001). Notably, students from the lowest quartile of incoming academic preparation appear to have been more positively impacted by the online course experience (preparatory chemistry final exam scores: unstandardized B = 11.103, p < 0.001; general chemistry course grades: unstandardized B = 0.323, p = 0.002). These results suggest a fully online course can help improve student preparation for large populations of students, without resulting in a negative achievement gap for less academically prepared students. The structure and implementation of the online course, and the results from the post-hoc analyses will be described herein.