Online and face-to-face student attrition at a Wisconsin technical college
Fredrick Sheldon Rice, Indiana State University, United States
Doctor of Philosophy, Indiana State University . Awarded
Institutions of higher learning have long been concerned about the issue of student attrition. The problems and issues surrounding the attrition of undergraduate students in four-year colleges and universities have been well documented. Two-year colleges may not be able to apply all the same strategies used by four-year institutions to improve the persistence rates of students. Adding to the already complex issue of student persistence is the emergence of distance education. Attrition improvement strategies and practices are not necessarily universal in design. Systematic analysis of individual institutions is required in order to develop improvement initiatives for its specific student population.
The purpose of this study was to determine factors that are significantly related to the program persistence of degree-seeking students at a Wisconsin technical college and to draw distinctions and similarities between online and face-to-face students. The broad question this study sought to answer is: which factors significantly influence a degree-seeking student's level of intent to persist at a Wisconsin technical college and whether these factors are similar between online and face-to-face students?
The sample (N=286) for this cross-sectional study was comprised of face-to-face (FTF) and online, currently active and inactive, degree-seeking program students. There were six sets of independent variables used in this study: academic variables, environmental variables, social integration variables, psychological outcomes, academic outcome, and background and defining variables. The dependent variable was intent to persist. Data was obtained through a mail survey. When the data was examined in aggregate, environmental variables and psychological outcomes were shown to be the best predictors of intent to persist. The specific variables that correlated best with intent to persist included: outside encouragement—close friends, goal commitment—degree completion, career certainty, and finances.
Rice, F.S. Online and face-to-face student attrition at a Wisconsin technical college. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Indiana State University.
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