Previous educational research has focused intensely on comparison between modalities: namely between face-to-face, hybrid/blended, and online course technologies. This study examined the effect of these three major course instruction modalities on student success and retention in STEM disciplines at one community college in the San Francisco Bay Area. The study used a quantitative research design that incorporated historical student data and survey data. Results showed that the hybrid modality had the most positive effect on student success and retention for a majority of STEM disciplines, followed by face-to-face and online modalities, respectively. The CSIT department performed the most effectively in the hybrid modality. The results of a survey distributed to students indicated that online courses were less preferred, but hybrid courses provided the most benefit. These findings confirmed previous research comparing instruction methods. This study served as an addition to previous research because of the focus exclusively on multiple STEM disciplines at an institution that had never been studied. The results of the study may encourage the community college involved in the study to evaluate and review the online and hybrid learning environments to determine the most effective methodology with regard to student enrollment, retention, and student learning outcomes.
Key words: online learning, hybrid learning, blended learning, course success, course retention, instruction methods, STEM