Assessing Student Retention in Online Learning Environments: A Longitudinal Study

July 14, 2012


In their initial study, authors Boston, Ice, and Gibson (2011) explored the relationship between student demographics and interactions, and retention at a large online university. Participants in the preliminary study (n = 20,569) included degree-seeking undergraduate students who completed at least one course at the American Public University System (APUS) in 2007. Two notable findings from the study were (1) the importance of transfer credit, and (2) the consistency of activity in predicting continued enrollment. Interestingly, the latter finding was confirmed upon the analysis of longitudinal data from the current study. Further related to the latter finding-yet unexpected, was the existence of new literature that, although subtle, affirms the importance for online institutions to conduct ongoing research on these topics. Readers of the current study are encouraged to refer to the preliminary study toward a comprehensive understanding of these nuances. Though informative, the researchers wished to validate the original study findings through longitudinal evaluation of retention.

Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration

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