Impact of group-work and extended essay writing on online Advanced Placement students

Philip Gene Handwerk, University of Pennsylvania


The remarkable growth of the Internet over the last several years has impacted not only corporations and homes but schools as well. Online high schools, funded by public and private dollars, are growing significantly in number, popularity, and function. However, little has been published about the effectiveness of these institutions. The emphasis of this research was on discovering what can be done to make the online classroom experience more beneficial to the students. This study looked primarily at how working (or not working) in groups and how writing extended essays (or not writing extended essays) impacted online Advanced Placement (AP) high school students' performance on the AP exam(s). The data analyzed was from the 2003--2005 AP administrations. Academic performance is the dependent variable in this study as measured by utilizing a number of scores from AP exams: multiple-choice section score, free response section score, and the combined composite score. Previous investigations have found significant differences in performance on AP exams when viewed by sex, race, and year in school. These variables are included as independent variables in the models. The number of AP exams (prepared for through traditional and online instruction) taken by the student during their academic career and PSAT scores are also included as covariates. Findings from this study add to the limited empirical research available regarding online performance of high school students. In particular, it should provide a clearer understanding of what impact various forms of assignments have on online AP student performance and subject knowledge. Results may give direction to future developers of online courses, educators, parents, and students.

Subject Area

Educational evaluation|Secondary education|Educational software

Recommended Citation

Handwerk, Philip Gene, "Impact of group-work and extended essay writing on online Advanced Placement students" (2006). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3225467.