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A Nonexperimental Study Examining Online Military Learner Satisfaction and Retention

, Northcentral University, United States

Doctor of Education, Northcentral University . Awarded


Adult, underserved learners in higher education face many challenges in postsecondary degree attainment. To overcome the obstacles of busy lifestyles, many choose to study in online programs but higher attrition rates are found in distance learning courses, further contributing to national attrition rates. In addition, the adult demographic is so diverse that generic retention studies may not uncover the unique needs affecting a particular underserved subgroup. It is for this reason that researchers have recommended studies to/that delineate specific subpopulations within the adult cohort to best understand their retention needs. The emergent military online learner population is a high-risk, underserved demographic with scant research on their abilities to persist in higher education. This nonexperimental, quantitative study used simple and multiple logistic regression analyses to examine online military student retention and their satisfaction with five variables of institutional services. Participants included 1,414 military and veteran learners at a single U.S. online university during the year 2010 who completed the Noel Levitz Priorities Survey for Online Learners (PSOL). Results from this study demonstrated there was a statistically significant relationship (p < .001) between each of the variables (institutional perceptions, academic services, instructional services, enrollment services, student services) and course completion status. The odds ratios for the five student services scores ranged from 1.33 to 1.55. This means that a 1-point increase on any one of the university services scores results in between a 33% and 55% increase in the odds that a student will fail a course. Future research is recommended to determine if similar results would be replicated at other institutions. Results from this study may provide institutions with a framework to target retention programming for this underserved population for the benefit of the military learner, the institutions who serve them, and national degree achievement goals. This study has contributed to needed military research by examining military learner retention as it relates to satisfaction with institutional services. Future studies are recommended to examine if satisfaction is a product of social integration within the institution.


Hayek, C.T. A Nonexperimental Study Examining Online Military Learner Satisfaction and Retention. Doctor of Education thesis, Northcentral University. Retrieved October 17, 2019 from .

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