Online Versus Classroom – Metrics for Comparison
Principal Supervisors

Professor Helen Meng
(Department of Systems Engineering and Engineering Management)


2 years and 6 months

Approved Budget

HK $1,107,475

  • Abstract
  • Brief write-up
  • Video Report


The proposed project focuses on the development of metrics for comparative evaluation of classroom versus online delivery of university-level subject matter. We are seeing the sudden proliferation of online courses that seem to offer competitive pedagogic experiences at a fraction of the cost of conventional university courses. We also observe that some aspects of classroom-based education have no clear equivalents in present-day online courses. These include students’ face-to-face interactions with course staff, stimulation from physical presence in an active research environment, and the general social milieu of a university campus. We also need to develop concrete measures of comparative pedagogic effectiveness between online and classroom venues. Comparison will be based on a single course among a conventional classroom offering, an online offering taken by a self-selected group of external students, and an online offering taken on campus by university’s own undergraduates. This study involves a cross-institutional collaboration (with MIT) and cross-faculty collaboration (among Education, Engineering and Social Sciences). The comparative study will shed light on dimensions in which each pedagogic element excels, allowing incremental progress in the improvement of both classroom and online offerings. Based on our analytics, the best practices in terms of teaching and learning will be identified, as well as examined and disseminated through the CUHK KEEP system.

Brief write-up

Project objectives
  1. Evaluate a variety of pedagogic approaches with a standard metric.
  2. Collect a variety of class data and develop statistical tools that measure pedagogic progress.
  3. Provide statistical models of observed class behavior.

Activities, process and outcomes

Research was conducted mostly on CUHK’s data of flipped classroom teaching of first-year elite engineering mathematics class. Manually collected statistical data were analyzed. An attempt was made to collect audio data of student group discussions.

Deliverables and evaluation

The CUHK-MIT Joint Workshop on eLearning was held, where we shared our experiences in flipped classroom teaching. The talks were open to the public. A press conference was also held. Class activities that were studied included (1) group formation; (2) MATE (Market-Assisted Teaching Exchange) class concept review system; (3) question creation game; (4) class project creation and presentations; as well as (5) initial audio analysis.

Dissemination, diffusion, impact and sharing of good practices

The CUHK-MIT Joint Workshop on eLearning was held, where experiences were shared in novel flipped classroom teaching methodology. The talks were open to the public. A press conference was also held. One paper that evaluates statistical finding was presented and another paper that presents audio analysis was submitted to an international conference.

Video Report

Please click the following link for viewing the report.