Distance Learning Master’s Degree Significantly Improves Teaching Effectiveness

August 21, 2002

LOS ANGELES, August 20, 2002 – As millions of teachers prepare to return to their classrooms, Canter & Associates today released a research study indicating that teachers who had enrolled in a distance learning master’s degree program experienced a significant improvement in their teaching effectiveness in eight areas tied to student achievement. The study found that when compared with graduates from traditional, on-campus master’s degree programs, these distance learning graduates scored higher in all eight areas including classroom management and student motivation.

The results were based on a volunteer sample of 59 classroom teachers in 24 New Jersey schools. Trained evaluators observed teachers while in the classroom in addition to reviewing lesson plans, responses to questionnaires, and classroom tests used for assessment.

“The effectiveness of a master’s degree, in particular one through a distance learning program, has been a source of debate among teachers and school districts across the nation,” said Dr. Evelyn Ogden, study author and deputy superintendent of East Brunswick Public Schools in New Jersey. “This study should help focus that dialogue by demonstrating the value of an advanced degree in education. In particular, the study points to the strength of the Canter distance learning model which links research-based theory with practical strategies through modeling in real classroom situations, peer collaboration, and reflection.”

The study compared graduates from Marygrove College’s Master in the Art of Teaching degree, a distance learning program, with teaching colleagues who had earned master’s degrees in education from a range of on-campus programs. In rating total effectiveness of classroom performance on a scale of 0-800, the study found that Marygrove teachers scored more than 145 points higher than the traditional, on-campus degree graduates (382.7 for traditional compared to 528.2 for Marygrove graduates).

The study also revealed that study participants had a mean score of 384.3 in total teaching effectiveness at the time of enrolling in the Marygrove program and a mean score of 528.2 upon completing the program.

“Marygrove’s distance learning program offers teachers the opportunity to re-invent themselves into models of reflective, high-performing practitioners,” said Dr. Eunice L. Jordan, director of Marygrove’s Master in the Art of Teaching distance learning program. “As teachers study and master best practices in the field, they are able to excel in the teaching and learning process.” Marygrove College is one of seven Canter university partners offering distance learning master’s degrees in education.

Eight areas of teacher performance were evaluated in the study including teacher beliefs and expectations; classroom management; engagement and motivation of students; repertoire of teaching strategies; teaching to multiple intelligences; students with special needs and gender equity; parent involvement and communication; and student assessment. Of those areas, special needs and gender equity showed the most significant difference between the two groups of teachers, with Marygrove graduates rating a total scaled score of 80.2 compared to the traditional graduates’ score of 45.5 (on a scale of 1-100).

“This study confirms that distance learning is a viable option for many of today’s classroom teachers who need to balance a full-time job and family obligations with pursuing a master’s degree,” said Kathy Winberry, general manager for Canter & Associates, a division of Sylvan Learning Systems. “With Canter’s distance learning model, teachers can measurably improve their teaching effectiveness without changing their lifestyles.”

The study, commissioned by Canter & Associates, was developed and conducted by independent researchers Dr. Evelyn Ogden and Dr. Charles Secolsky with the permission of the volunteer study participants. An executive summary of the full study can be downloaded online by visiting http://www.canter.net/content/index.cfm?wid=6&pid=6or by contacting Terry Peet-Lukes, Executive Director of Research for Canter & Associates, at 1-800-733-1711, ext. 4830

About Canter & Associates

Canter & Associates (http://www.canter.net/), a division of Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc., provides skill-based training to educators via distance learning, on-site instruction, and resource books. Canter-produced resources are utilized in university-accredited master’s degree programs for teacher recertification and salary advancement. Since 1976, more than one million teachers have benefited from programs and materials produced by Canter.

About Marygrove College

Marygrove College (http://www.marygrove.edu/) is an independent, Catholic liberal arts college founded by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) in 1927. Located on 53 wooded acres on the northwest side of Detroit, Michigan, Marygrove continues to educate its students toward intellectual and professional competence, career flexibility through grounding in the liberal arts, and active compassion and commitment. One of the first colleges to offer the distance learning master’s program, Marygrove has awarded degrees to more than 10,000 graduates since 1997.

About Sylvan Learning Systems

Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc. (www.sylvan.net) is the leading provider of education services to families and schools worldwide. The Sylvan Learning Center business provides personalized instruction services to K-12 students through direct consumer relationships. Sylvan Education Solutions provides tutoring and related services under contract to school systems. Sylvan provides courses to adult students throughout the world in the areas of teacher training, accredited university offerings, and English language, through the Online Higher Education, Sylvan International Universities and Wall Street Institute businesses. Sylvan International Universities is pioneering the largest and most ambitious network of post-secondary education institutions worldwide. Sylvan Ventures, Sylvan’s research and investment vehicle, focuses on bringing emerging technology solutions to the education and training marketplace.


Lori Putnam

Canter & Associates

(310) 578-4356