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 clamor for increasing graduation and persistence rates, are we ignoring the student at risk factors and student characteristics?
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.
Earlier in the month, one of my colleagues sent me a link to an article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, titled “The Ugly Secret Why Tuition Costs a Fortune.” The article notes that in today’s somewhat unstable economy, the cost of most consumer goods are falling, yet higher education has somehow managed to insulate itself from this fundamental economic trend.
Following up on my article regarding Adult Online Learners, I asked Phil McNair, our Vice President for Academic Services to discuss some of our efforts for more interactivity among our students. Phil’s guest article is printed below.
A concern of many students attending college online is that they are not having a “real” college experience: no football games, no dormitories, no cafeterias or gyms or face to face interaction with fellow students.