Online Learning for Students from Diverse Backgrounds: Learning Disability Students, Excellent Students and Average Students

Miri Shonfeld & Ilana Ronen, Kibbutzim College of Education, Israel
Published: September 2015

Citation: Shonfeld, M., & Ronen, I. (2015). Online Learning for Students from Diverse Backgrounds: Learning Disability Students, Excellent Students and Average Students. IAFOR Journal of Education, 3(2).


The perceived contribution of science education online course to pre-service students (N=121) from diverse backgrounds – students with learning disabilities (25 LD students), 28 excellent students and 68 average students is presented in this five years research. During the online course students were asked to choose a scientific subject; to map it and to plan teaching activities; to carry out the proposed activities with students in a classroom experience; and to reflect the process. The assumption was that adapting the online course by using information and communication technology following formative assessment will improve students' self-learning ability as well as broaden their science knowledge, their lab performance and teaching skills. Data were collected using quantitative and qualitative tools including: pre and post questionnaires and nine (three students from each group) depth interviews upon completion of the course. Findings, based on students` perceived evaluation, pinpointed on the advantages of the online course for students of the three groups. LD students’ achievements were not inferior to those of their peers, excellent students and average students. Yet, it carefully reports on a slight but explicitly marginal perceived evaluation of the LD students in comparison to excellent students and average students regarding: forum participation, authentic task and water lab performance. The article discusses the affordance of the online course via additional features that can be grouped into two categories: knowledge construction and flexibility in time, interaction and knowledge. Further research is suggested to extend the current study by examine the effect of other courses and different contents and by considering various evaluation methods of online courses, such as: observation, the think aloud, text and tasks analysis, and reflection.


online learning, students with learning disability, excellent students, science education