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Survivor: online courses : a study of voluntary student attrition in asynchronous undergraduate online courses using a multi-analytic framework

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Survivor: online courses : a study of voluntary student attrition in asynchronous undergraduate online courses using a multi-analytic framework

Devey, Patrick L (2009) Survivor: online courses : a study of voluntary student attrition in asynchronous undergraduate online courses using a multi-analytic framework. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Studies Investigating retention specific to online courses are scarce, and those extant generally fail to yield practical solutions aimed at curtailing attrition rates, either because they attempt to isolate and profile the individual characteristics of successful students or use registration data to compare those who completed their studies to those who discontinued them. In so doing, the role of the institution in influencing its own retention rates has been marginalized since the information gathered hinges solely on student characteristics. Furthermore, the definition of attrition and the way it is measured has seldom been made clear, and rare are the studies that have gathered data directly from the students who dropped out, thereby limiting a researcher's ability to identify the factors that lead to the decision. This dissertation proposes a framework to investigate voluntary student attrition in undergraduate asynchronous online courses through a longitudinal exploratory study. The study uses a multi-analytic methodology to identify the students who were enrolling in the online courses, find out why they enrolled in them, and isolate the factors that were at the root of their dropout decision. Survivor analysis is introduced as an additional tool which offers the ability to pinpoint the times during the semester when the students are at the highest risk of discontinuing. A significant factor in decisions to discontinue was the opportunity cost of dropping the course. The larger the investment of their limited resources that had already been devoted to the course, the better the chance that the student would persist in it. The results of the survivor analysis helped confirm that students were at the highest risk of dropping out of a course when a significant effort was required in order to maintain a level of academic performance that would not jeopardize their grade-point average. Responses to open-ended questions exposed the major role played by institutions in a student's decision to abandon an online course. Subsequently, this dissertation suggests the adoption of the AIDES taxonomy for classifying the reasons that students discontinue their online courses in order that effective and proactive countermeasures can be designed and implemented.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Devey, Patrick L
Pagination:xvii, 432 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Educational Technology
Date:2009
Thesis Supervisor(s):Shaw, S
ID Code:976284
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:22
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:42
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