June 2, 2009 – A new study concludes that the social skills of students enrolled in full-time, online public schools are superior to or not significantly different than students enrolled in traditional public schools.
The independent study was completed by Interactive Education Systems Design (IESD), Inc., in collaboration with The Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP) at the University of Memphis. It represents the first significant research effort on the social skills of students in full-time, online public schools.
“Online public schools are experiencing rapid growth across the country,” said Dr. Jay Sivin-Kachala, Vice-President of IESD, who led the research project. “Yet some concerns have been expressed that students enrolled in online public schools may suffer from a lack of opportunities for socialization, and consequently may fail to develop important social skills. The results of this study provide substantial evidence supporting the conclusion that typical, mainstream students enrolled in full-time, online public schools are at least as well socialized as equivalent students enrolled in traditional public schools.”
Dr. Sivin-Kachala added, “Preliminary evidence also suggests that students enrolled in full-time, online public schools might have an advantage in their social skills development if they are highly engaged in activities outside the school day – including both activities involving peer interaction and activities not involving peer interaction.”
Dr. Sivin-Kachala earned a Doctorate of Education (Ed. D.) in educational technology from Teachers College at Columbia University and has designed and led numerous research projects in the field of education.
Other findings from the study include:
- Children who were enrolled in full-time, online public schools were highly engaged in activities outside of the school day.
- Problem behaviors of students enrolled in full-time, online public schools were either significantly lower or not significantly different to their peers in traditional public schools.
- Spending a longer time enrolled in full-time, online public schools was not associated with lower social skills.
- A majority of parents described improvement in a variety of academic, personal, and interpersonal skills since their child enrolled in a full-time, online public school.