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What delivery modality is most effective in teaching undergraduate, political science research methods? Using systematically collected data from two academic terms and employing a quasi-experimental design, this paper explores variation in learning outcomes between face-to-face and distance-hybrid course offerings. Variation in the dependent variable is observed through measuring attrition (drop or failure), course performance among those who pass, and course satisfaction. While any evidence of difference in attrition rates is marginal when controlling for sex, age, university experience, a background in similar coursework, or whether the course is taken by a major, there is no evidence that modality predicts performance among those who successfully complete the course. Distance-hybrid learners are less satisfied with the class overall, unless you control for knowledge gains, math anxiety, and especially social presence. Perceptions of a learning community predict satisfaction for learners across both modalities, but when modeled controlling for other subjective outcomes, we predict higher satisfaction for distance learners. This suggests that the best pathway to equalize outcomes across delivery modalities is to work hard to overcome the social presence gap experienced by students learning in a distance-hybrid environment.


Originally published in Journal of Political Science Education. 2020. Volume 17. Issue 1. Pages 380-402.