Factors that Influence Student Attrition in Online Courses

Concurrent Session 1

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This presentation will include the results of a research study conducted using results from the SmarterMeasure Learning Readiness Indicator to track students in their degree programs. In addition, student outreach was conducted with an experimental group of at-risk students to determine if additional academic support promoted retention. An at-risk student profile will be shared.

Presenters

Melanie Shaw has spent the past decade teaching and serving as an administrator in online higher education settings. She is a professor in the School of Education at Northcentral University, where she works with students in the dissertation phase of their program. She also serves as an adjunct faculty at several institutions and facilitates webinars for the Online Learning Consortium. In addition to her teaching roles, she trains faculty to develop and deliver courses online, conducts research on topics related to nontraditional education, and is involved in strategic leadership relative to the vision for online education. Melanie’s primary research interests include online teaching and learning, organizational leadership, and distance learning instructional practices. She is the author of several books, articles, and chapters including: An Evaluation of Student Outcomes by Course Duration in Online Higher Education; Establishing an Online Professional Development Community to Promote Faculty Engagement and Excellence; Distance Learning Courses: A Survey of Activities and Assignments; and Online Course Activities: A Survey of Assignment and Assessment Types. She is the winner of the Wagner Award for Outstanding Instructional Support and the Online Learning Consortium’s Effective Practice Award. Melanie received a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Curriculum and Teaching from Northcentral University, a master’s degree in Education Administration from Grand Canyon University, and a second master’s degree in School Counseling for the University of West Alabama. She received her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies and Music from Excelsior College. She holds teaching certificates in online teaching, elementary education, and guidance counseling. She is preparing for a move to New York City with her husband Paul, who is a jazz musician. Melanie has two adult children who live in Atlanta.
Dr. Karen Ferguson currently serves as Dean, School of Professional Studies at Colorado State University. She entered higher education after a 12 year military career and passionate about providing access to education. A non-traditional student herself, Karen has focused her career on serving adult and first generation students.

Extended Abstract

Research was conducted to examine predictors for online higher education student attrition. This research was conducted using results from the SmarterMeasure Learning Readiness Indicator to track students in their degree programs. In addition, student outreach was conducted with an experimental group of at-risk students to determine if additional academic support promoted retention.  Results demonstrated that verbal and physical learning styles and personal attributes such as procrastination, increase the likelihood for attrition, while clear reasons for pursuing a degree and typing skills decrease the likelihood for attrition.  Outreach to identified at-risk students did promote greater levels of student success and persistence.