Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Nicholas J. Sauers

Second Advisor

Dr. James Kahrs

Third Advisor

Dr. Bob Heaberlin


Background: Online learning is a growing delivery model for education; however, there exists a void in the literature regarding the adoption of online learning models in rural K-12 school systems. Purpose: To provide pertinent data to the rural school administrator so that they may make an informed decision in regards to the potential implementation of asynchronous online learning within their school and/or district. Literature Review: Explores the history, impact on student outcomes, graduation rates, cost effectiveness and student engagement factors in regards to online learning. Research Design: A quantitative ex-post facto, causal-comparative design was used while embracing Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory. Data Collection and Analysis: Student achievement data were collected from a rural high school where some students participated in an asynchronous online learning environment while other students participated in the traditional face-to-face environment. Results: Students participating in asynchronous online learning environments performed below students in traditional learning environments for all four subjects (a) English Language Arts, (b) mathematics, (c) science, and (d) social studies, on both metrics, test score and percentile rank. Conclusion: Although this study would probably not result in the exclusion of online learning in rural settings, it may assist school boards and principals to consider the inclusion of online learning carefully, before extensive financial input occurs. The results also assist with identifying key pitfalls to avoid when establishing online learning environments.