It’s common knowledge among those of us researching student retention in online higher education that swirling (attendance by a student at multiple institutions) is much more prevalent with online, than on-ground, programs. Some of the explanations offered include that it’s easier to switch from one online program to another and there’s less social integration among online students so less social stigma in leaving. Others posit that online students are much more savvy about reviewing courses at multiple institutions to enable them to build a richer collection of courses. Lastly, some note that the more frequent semester starts offered by online institutions makes it more conducive for students switching schools to accommodate their personal and work schedules, and to finish their program sooner.
Tag Archives | Student Retention
This week, May 16-22, 2016, the APUS Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) celebrates International Coaching Week (ICW). According to the International Coach Federation, “ICW educates the public about the value of working with a professional coach and acknowledges the results and progress made through the coaching process.” To this end, American Public University System (APUS) developed a comprehensive coaching and mentoring initiative.
When reading research reports, I have a habit of noting specific citations if they interest me. Whether I subsequently access the original source depends on how much time I have and whether the topic is relevant to an article or paper that I am writing. I don’t retrieve older source documents as often as newer ones, since much of my writing involves online learning, a field that is evolving almost as quickly as the technology that supports it changes.
Earlier this week, the California State University System (CSU) announced an online pilot program with Udacity, a for-profit provider of MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses). Udacity will provide a remedial algebra course, a college level algebra course, and a statistics course as part of the pilot that will initially be limited to 300 students at San Jose State University and several local community colleges.
Vincent Tinto’s research related to student retention is well known among academicians. His 1975 paper in the Review of Educational Research creating a theoretical construct of the major factors leading to student retention has been cited in hundreds, if not thousands of papers and publications. Additionally, Tinto’s sociological construct of the college dropout influenced future researchers toward examining the cause of dropouts instead of blaming the victim.
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.