A Multilevel Analysis of Distance Learning Achievement: Are College Students with Disabilities Making the Grade?

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether academic outcomes (course grades) differ when taking online and traditional courses, among students with and without disabilities. Participants consisted of a 3,078 undergraduate and graduate students from a comprehensive midsized Historically Black College or University on the east coast of the United States. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to determine whether disability status was related to outcomes, while controlling for student-level and class-level variables. Results indicate similar level of achievement among students. Yet, the cross-level interaction term was significant, suggesting that students with disabilities may perform better in online courses than traditional courses. Rationale for the results, theoretical backgrounds, research design, and future directions for research are presented.

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