Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Mathematics and Statistics

First Advisor

Victoria R. Sieck, PhD


The growth of technology impacts nearly every aspect of everyday life, to include education and learning. The availability of distance learning (online) classes has increased drastically in the last few decades, expanding access to education for millions of people. However, it is imperative to consider exactly how the growth of technology impacts education – whether it is a positive, negative, or neutral impact. Previous research comparing distance learning and in-residence (traditional) classes have widely mixed, disparate conclusions. This type of research, two-stage analysis, and modeling has yet to be conducted on a graduate school level. For this reason, a detailed look into how student performance is affected by different classroom environments at the Air Force Institute of Technology Graduate School of Engineering and Management (AFIT-EN) is conducted. This study analyzed two data sets: the first included observational data with multiple demographic variables. This data was then used to model student performance as determined by the student’s final course grade. The second data set is experimental in nature as the class was meticulously designed to eliminate as many sources of bias as possible, with the goal of making the in-residence and distance learning sections of the course mirror each other. The results of both analyses indicated that when the sources of bias are controlled, either through variables or design of experiments, learning environment does not impact student performance. These results can be applied to other courses and schools, while also assisting professors in designing their courses and students in choosing which course section is right for them.

AFIT Designator



PA cleared, 88ABW-2023-0285