Student Accessibility and Attrition in Online Courses

Student Accessibility and Attrition in Online Courses

Online courses have been described by supporters as equivalent to face-to-face courses for students who successfully complete them. Unfortunately, students generally complete online courses in reduced rates compared to face-to-face courses. To examine this phenomenon toward buttressing students’ online course persistence and success, we are examining student access, attitude, and attrition in a popular general education course. This mixed-methods study tracks student persistence, and surveys students who withdraw to understand the primary reasons for their decisions. Through follow-up interviews with students who exited this course, we will explore the context for students’ enrollment and their decision to withdraw. Our objectives are to make visible the withdrawal rate for online courses at UC Davis, to understand reasons for student withdrawal that are specific to online courses, and to understand how student perceptions of online courses as well as access to resources contribute to online course withdrawal rate. 

This project is a collaboration between CEE and Department of Communications Professor Jeannette Ruiz, and is supported by a University of California ILTI grant. 

By: Stephanie Pulford, Ph.D., Jeannette Ruize Ph.D., Sattik Ghosh

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