Looking Closer at Summer Enrollments – Online Summer Classes Keep Growing

A total of 164 courses ran last summer, with the largest number of these occurring in the May/June term (68 courses). The June/July session had the next highest number of courses available (53 courses). While the majority of courses continue to occur in a face-to-face mode, one quarter of the courses offered were taught in a fully online format. That’s a far cry from the 2012 summer, when just 8% of the courses offered were fully online.

Taking a look at our recent history in terms of courses offered and average class sizes offers additional insight into enrollment trends over the past four summer sessions.

  2013 2014 2015 2016
College of Arts and Sciences        
Sections initially listed 160 155 126 129
Sections that ran 125 129 104 117
Average class size (all classes) 12.11 10.23 11.4 11.2
Number of online classes 10 15 25 31
Average size of online courses 15.1 13.7 12.92 12.5
College of Business        
Sections initially listed 21 24 22 23
Sections that ran 19 21 21 20
Average class size (all classes) 14.89 13.9 12.33 10.3
Number of online classes 1 2 5 4
Average size of online courses 24 23 16.8 12
College of Education        
Sections initially listed 31 26 28 28
Sections that ran 28 21 24 27
Average class size (all classes) 12.4 12.52 12.75 12.4
Number of online classes 2 6 8 7
Average size of online courses 13 15.7 13.13 17.1
Total number of classes offered 177 171 149 164
Average class size (all classes) 12.4 10.96 11.75 11.9
Number of online classes 13 23 38 42
Average size of online courses 15.5 15.0 13.37 13.3
Average size of non-online courses 12.15 10.33 11.19 11.4

While average class sizes are remaining roughly steady – a shade under 12 students for all courses — fully online courses are almost two students larger than the average size of a face-to-face class. Just about one quarter of the summer courses were taught in fully online formats last year. In 2013, only 7% of the summer courses were offered fully online.

The 42 fully online courses offered last summer were spread across all five of UMW’s separate summer terms and all three Colleges. Eighteen (18) separate subject disciplines were represented. Only one of the initially proposed online courses had to be canceled. Proposals for new fully online courses to be offered in the summer session are due to the Distance and Blended Learning Committee by November 9 (at 5 p.m.); this extended deadline was just announced by Sarah Morealli (the Committee chair). The proposal form to make a course proposal to the committee is available, appropriately enough, online.

One more important takeaway from these recent summer session trends is that we are doing a better job of proposing courses that will “make” when offered in the summer. The minimum size needed for a course to run was 7; just 9% of the courses initially proposed (16 classes) did not achieve the necessary enrollment minimums and had to be canceled. The year before, we cancelled 27 classes (15% of the courses listed). In summer 2014, 34 classes were cancelled. Decreasing the number of courses that have to be cancelled benefits students and faculty alike, and we hope to do as well or perhaps even better this year.

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