Review of literature on student outcomes in online learning (2024)

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Center for Research Evaluation, University of Mississippi

This literature review provides a comprehensive overview of the key outcomes and indicators of success associated with online instruction. It explores both academic and non-academic outcomes, and discusses the role of instructional design in influencing student success in online learning environments. Overall, the literature review suggests that online learning can produce comparable rates of course completion, examination performance and student satisfaction when compared to traditional face-to-face instruction. However, the literature review indicates that instructional design choices have a significant impact on both student educational attainment and long-term academic achievement. For that reason, it also provides an overview of key instructional design factors that can influence student academic and non-academic outcomes in online learning. Success in online learning hinges on addressing the digital divide, investing in intentional course design, supporting both students and educators in navigating online spaces and prioritizing social-­emotional well-being alongside academic goals.

Literature review