An Investigation into Factors That Impact Retention of Online Students
From CETL Admin
Presenters: Judy Donovan & Christopher Sorensen
TLC Track: Online Teaching and Learning Research
Synopsis: The purpose of this research is to understand why students discontinue study before completing their program. We used several methods of inquiry; both quantitative and qualitative data including: existing retention data, program class size data, student transcripts, interviews with retention specialists, student advisors, and students who have dropped, student surveys, and examinations of course data. The presentation will: 1. Share factors that contribute to students’ discontinuing their studies at Ashford University; identifying what point in time students leave their online academic program; and determining factors that may be used to predict students dropping out of their program. 2. Examine and discuss the relationships between retention rate, persistence rate, average program class size, academic programs characteristics (such as course sequencing and rigor), academic levels, and student GPA. 3. Share in depth one-on-one interviews, the reasons students drop out of COE programs, with the goal of understanding the decisions students make that result in program discontinuation instead of graduation. 4. Discuss actions course designers, faculty, staff and others can take to improve student course and program completing rate. This presentation will summarize and share findings about student retention that will allow participants to understand this issue on a macro and micro level. Strategies for improving student retention will be shared, discussed and generated, possibly leading to positive impacts for student learning. Comments from one-on-one interviews with students who have discontinued studies will end a unique, qualitative dimension to the quantitative data that will help attendees understand multiple facets of this complex issue.