Academic Success Factors: Distance Education versus Traditional

Academic Success Factors: Distance Education versus Traditional

Academic settings of distance education courses are distinct from traditional college settings due to its high-tech delivery and facilitating needs of its students. The success rates of each learning arena varies by tempering degrees; distance education students must rely on self-discipline and excellent time management skills while traditional students can use their classes for corresponding reasons.

Developing skills for success in distance education and traditional learning environments are up to the students’ abilities to focus on their course work. In turn, the use of college text material, technology, and self-management is essential in varying degrees between each student.

Distance and traditional students are required to read course textbooks because textbooks bridge the gap between the learner and the learning experience (Cavanaugh, 2005, p.1). Books remain the number one resource for all students because students must engage in in-depth discussions to sort through materials (Adventist Distance Education Consortium, 2002, p. 4).

Implementing technology support such as visual or audio delivery increases distance education learners’ experience (Cavanaugh, 2005, p.1). At the same time, traditional students are experiencing a change in course delivery as well. For example, traditional universities offer online supplement materials for their students- quizzes, email, and video tutorials (ADEC, 2002, p.8).

These additions require students to use self-motivation as their learning tools, but this is not the same as distance education learners. Distance learners are responsible for persistence and greater self-discipline because they are not required to physically walk or “go” to class (Cavanaugh, 2006, p.2). This allotted time is used for other demands such as work, family, or study time. Distance learners are in a state of freedom with boundaries that enable them to learn on their own. Traditional learners are placed in their learning environment that may trigger their motivation to learn, but distance learners must use their resources since their learning environment consists of technology (ADEC, 2002, p.8).

Class participation rates are higher in distance education courses because the students have more time to develop well-rounded arguments for instructor’s assignments (Cavanaugh, 2005 p.3). On the other hand, traditional students are required to answer in-class questions at that moment – this triggers some self-consciousness among students (ADEC, 2002, p.8).

Distance learners have an advantage over traditional students because of this, but they must seize the opportunity to gather information and articulate in with use of technology (Cavanaugh, 2005, p.3). Traditional students’ ability to physically present their work allows instructors to notice their student’s development over the course. Instructors of distance learners must gather hard data due to the non-facing circumstances. By this, student’s assessments and growth is found through their work (Cavanaugh, 2005, p.4).

In conclusion, the success of distance and traditional learners is ultimately the student’s responsibility. Both learners must seize opportunities presented by their facilities to adapt their skills to the situation for greater understanding of their material (Cavanaugh, 2005, p.4).


This is very important that facilities have the appropriate resources available for both students. The distance learner and traditional learner utilize the information given to them; e.g. delivery methods are very important in offering the student adequate support in their academic endeavors (Cavanaugh, 2005, p.4). As stated before, distance education students must use optimal self-management skills for successful results while traditional students must focus attend courses physically for their success.

Reference Cites

Adventist Distance Education Consortium. (2002) Distance Education Success Guide. Retrieved September 16, 2006

Cavanaugh, C. (2005). Distance Education Success Factors (pp. 1-4). USA: University of North Florida.