In the early days of online education, a commonly discussed phenomenon was the low completion rates of students. Some chose to explain the departure of students using characteristics such as lack of social integration and academic integration for students matriculating in online programs as identified by Vincent Tinto and others. As technologies utilized in the classroom improved and subsequently, online teaching techniques, student persistence improved as well, but not close to the levels sustained by some of the best face-to-face programs.
I had the opportunity to present a paper this week at the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education’s (AACE) E-Learn 2010 conference in Orlando along with Dr. Phil Ice, our Director of Course Design, Research & Development. The paper, Comprehensive Assessment of Student Retention in Online Learning Environments, originated from research that I conducted as part of my doctoral dissertation at The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.