Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career and Higher Education

Major Professor

Victor Hernandez


Distance Learning, Equivalency, Hybrid, Preparation, Technician


The purpose of this study was to determine whether student outcomes are a function of participation in different modes of delivery in an Opticianry program at the community college level. First, the intent was to determine whether differences in instructional delivery methods and background characteristics impact student performance in an Opticianry program. The three instructional delivery methods were traditional face-to-face instruction, online delivery, and a hybrid format where students take theory courses online and attend face-to-face laboratories on campus. A second objective was to determine the role of background variables such as student age, which was the age when entering the Opticianry program classified in three categories: Young Adults (18-24), Middle Age (25-33), and Older Adults (34 & >).

To meet the purpose of the study and its driving questions, a non-experimental explanatory research design relying on survey data collection strategies was used. Data collection was conducted during a six-week period using an online survey available through Survey Monkey. The survey was used to identify instructional delivery method, perception of job preparedness, and perception of program quality. A two-way ANOVA was used to analyze the relationship between independent variables (delivery method and age) and a dependent variable (GPA, national certification score, workplace preparation score, and quality of instruction score). Two hundred and eighty six graduates of the Hillsborough Community College Opticianry Program from 2006-2012 were contacted for participation.

One hundred and twelve graduates completed the survey representing a response rate of 39%. The results indicated no significant difference in the outcomes of Opticianry program graduates related to instructional delivery method or age. Based on the overall results in the study, the overall conclusion is that students in the Opticianry program should achieve similar outcomes whether they complete the program online, on campus, or in a hybrid format.

The results of the study provide support for the idea that it is possible to provide equivalent technician preparation using a variety of instructional delivery methods. The study adds to a limited body of knowledge about the impact of participation in online or hybrid courses compared to traditional courses in technical preparation. The outcomes provide support that distance education is a promising strategy for increasing access to adult learners seeking flexible opportunities for technical preparation. The results should also reduce the reluctance of institutions offering career and technical education programs, to offer complete programs via distance learning in fear that distance students will not achieve program outcomes equivalent to face-to-face students. The study has generated positive comparative evidence of student performance as a function of instructional method, and documented students' evaluative perspectives about their occupational readiness and program quality.