The University of Phoenix
Enrollment in online academic programs has increased tremendously in the past decade, leaving administrators to find new strategies for increasing diverse student performance and persistence. The relationship between students’ expectations and their persistence will be tested in the proposed quantitative correlational study, which will survey nontraditional students (low-income, disadvantaged, first-generation, and returning) in online programs who have persisted in at least three online terms of courses, and who are currently enrolled in an online course. The literature indicates that we do not know what students are expecting from online courses, but nontraditional students are not persisting in online programs as well as traditional students, nor as well as they are persisting in brick and mortar classrooms. Expectancy and retention theories will guide an analysis of nontraditional students’ expectations of difficulty level, time, and technology requirements of online programs in relation to their persistence. Expectancy theory suggests that student actions may be linked to intentions and motivation; however, retention theory suggests that students react to their experiences in college because of their relationships or self-concept. This study has the potential to directly impact the way online courses are delivered and received for nontraditional students.