School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Michelle Barthlow


Virtual, Education, Science, Virtual Readiness, Cognitive Load, Social Learning Theory


Education | Educational Leadership


Due to the rapid growth of technology and implementation of virtual learning into the lives of students, there is a push for the evaluation of virtual educational programs. The purpose of this quantitative, causal-comparative study was to compare the impact of traditional, face-to-face instruction and virtual instruction on students’ course grades. The sample included 272 high school students in Florida; 125 students were enrolled in a virtual honors-level course and 147 students were enrolled in a traditional, face-to-face honors-level course. The students were enrolled in honors biology, chemistry, or physics. The theories guiding this study were social learning theory, self-determination theory, cognitive load theory, and online readiness. Data were collected from archival information of students’ course grades after the science course was completed, and the delivery method was noted. Separate t tests were conducted for each of the science courses. Assumption testing was run with the Kolmogorov-Smirnov and the Wilks-Shapiro tests. Results were not tenable; therefore, Mann-Whitney U tests were run. No statistically significant difference was found between median course grades of students who completed honors-level biology virtually or in a face-to-face format. It was also found that there was a statistically significant difference between course grades in honors-level chemistry and honors-level physics. The average course grade was higher for all three virtual classes than for the face-to-face classes. Recommendations for future research include examining the difference between the classes of virtual biology, virtual chemistry, and virtual physics, comparing how many virtual classes a student completes to the student’s course grade, and more research on virtual classes at different grade levels.