Participation in the Virtual Environment of Blended College Courses: An Activity Study of Student Performance


  • Cathy Cavanaugh Microsoft Worldwide Education
  • Jace Hargis Chaminade University
  • John Mayberry University of the Pacific



success factors, blended learning, online education, higher education, student engagement


This paper describes a study of success factors in the introductory semester of liberal studies blended courses offered at the bachelor of science level. The influence of student participation in the online course environment was examined, as measured by the number of times students logged into the learning management system (LMS) and average session length. These measures were correlated with final course grades to increase understanding of the participation patterns of successful students. The resulting patterns and their implications are identified. We observe that students with an intermediate number of logins and average session length tended to exhibit the optimal level of course performance with students who logged in near the low or high amount of times tending to receive lower grades.

Author Biographies

Cathy Cavanaugh, Microsoft Worldwide Education

Dr. Cathy Cavanaugh is Head of Teaching and Learning in Worldwide Education at Microsoft Corporation, working with education leaders and organizations around the world. Cathy’s research and publications focus on technology-empowered teaching and learning in virtual schools, online and blended learning, teacher development, mobile learning, and integration of devices into schools. Her work has been recognized for its impact with international awards.


Cathy held faculty and leadership appointments in US universities and a college in the Middle East, and was a Fulbright Senior Scholar advancing e-learning in Nepal. She also directed professional development centers in the US, and was a classroom teacher in the US and Caribbean. Her education includes a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, a Master of Education, and a Bachelor of Education.

Jace Hargis, Chaminade University

Dr. Jace Hargis is currently Associate Provost, Faculty Development, Assessment & Research at Chaminade University. Previously, he was Director of the Abu Dhabi Women's College, assistant provost and director for the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of the Pacific in California. He has authored a textbook, an anthology and has published over seventy five academic articles as well as offered over one hundred national and international academic presentations. His undergraduate and graduate degrees are in the chemical sciences and he has earned a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in Science Education. His research agenda addresses the theoretical aspects of how people learn with the use of emerging instructional technologies.

John Mayberry, University of the Pacific

Dr. Mayberry received his B.A. in Mathematics from California State University, Fullerton in 2003 and his PhD in Applied Mathematics from the University of Southern California in 2008. After completing his doctoral work, he spent two years as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor at Cornell University before starting his current position as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of the Pacific. His research interests include applied probability, mathematical biology, and statistics.



How to Cite

Cavanaugh, C., Hargis, J., & Mayberry, J. (2016). Participation in the Virtual Environment of Blended College Courses: An Activity Study of Student Performance. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(3).



Research Articles