An Exploratory Study of the Impact of Institutional Policies and Practices of Community and Technical Colleges in Texas on Student Persistence in Online Courses
Description: Online education is the fastest growing form of course delivery of higher education in the United States. It has revolutionized how students and instructors interact in the educational process. Yet students in online courses continue to experience higher attrition rates than their counterparts in traditional face-to-face classes despite the advantages offered by the technology. This study examined the impact that institutional policies and practices at community colleges in the state of Texas have had on student persistence in online courses. It also examined how institutions collect and use data in addressing students' attrition. The findings were used to identify the most effective institutional practices to share with community college systems in Texas in an effort to improve student persistence in online courses across the state. The population for the study consisted of the 50 public two-year community college and the technical college systems in the state of Texas. The study used a mixed method. A theoretical model of institutional impact on online persistence was drawn from the literature review. This model's five categories were then used to construct a survey to collect data on institutional practices and measure the effectiveness in addressing student persistence. Four college systems were identified using the survey data that best met the five categories. Interviews were then conducted at these four college systems to produce case studies of these institutions' practices and experiences with online persistence. The results highlighted the roles that institutions play in promoting student persistence in online programs. They revealed differences in the ways institutions define and track student success in online programs and the difficulty these differences pose in comparatively evaluating various institutions' programs. Results lent support to the theoretical model of institutional impact on online persistence that was developed for this study, and results yielded a proposed list of promising ...
Date: December 2010
Creator: Hills, Fred W.