Factors Impacting Online Course Persistence and Dropout of Adult Learners

April 4th, 2014 by webmaster

By: Nancy Mahmood, Ph.D., Cohort 6

Despite the astronomical growth in online learning in higher education institutions, and the advantages and flexibility it offers to adult learners with job and family responsibilities, this mode of education delivery has a much higher dropout rate than traditional face to face learning. Furthermore, there is a dearth in the literature on the factors that impact adult learners’ decisions to persist or dropout. This research study test Park’ theoretical model of adult dropout in online learning for significant predictors of the persistence and dropout of a sample of learners in undergraduate and graduate asynchronous online courses. The significant differences between the groups of persistent and dropout learners related to learner characteristics of age, gender, education, and employment status; external factor variables of motivation in terms of relevance and satisfaction were examined in this study. Furthermore, the significance of each predictor variable mentioned was examined in predicting the criterion variables of persistence and dropout. Descriptive and inferential statistics were utilized in this study including chi-square, two-way factorial, MANOVA, and logistic regression.

The results of this study revealed that age, educational background, and type of class taken were significantly different across the group of persistent and dropout learners in online courses, while gender and employment status were not found to be significantly different. Level of motivation in terms of both relevance and satisfaction were significantly different across the group while family support and organizational support were not. The significant predictors of persistence and dropout in online courses were age, employment status, and satisfaction. The Park (2007) adult dropout in online learning theoretical model was able to correctly predict 98% of the persistent learners, and only 37.8% of the dropout learners resulting in an overall accuracy of 89.3% and R2=.380.

Posted in Student Research