Factors that Influence Student Attrition in Online Courses


Research was conducted to explore predictors for online higher education student attrition. This research was conducted using results from the SmarterMeasure Learning Readiness Indicator to track students in their degree programs. In addition, student outreach was conducted with an experimental group of at-risk students to determine if additional academic support promoted retention. Results demonstrated that verbal and physical learning styles and personal attributes such as procrastination increase the likelihood for attrition, while clear reasons for pursuing a degree and typing skills decrease the likelihood for attrition. Outreach to identified at-risk students did promote greater levels of student success and persistence. Recommendations for future research include comparing results from online and traditional student groups to determine if similar at-risk factors influence the likelihood of student withdrawal, and examining the characteristics of students who withdrawal before completing their first course. Moreover, qualitative research should be conducted to more deeply understand the reasons associated with online program attrition.

Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Shaw, Melanie
Burrus, Scott WM
Ferguson, Karen
Year of Publication: 
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration
Publication Language: 
Boyer's Domain: 

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Scott Burrus

Additional content will be provided upon request.

Scott Burrus
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