Date of Award

4-8-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Degree Program

Global Leadership - with a specialization in Educational Leadership

Department

College of Education

First Advisor

Mary Tebes

Second Advisor

Valerie A. Storey

Third Advisor

William Ritchie

Abstract

With the advent of the Internet, distance education has achieved a new meaning. Online delivery has become one of the most convenient ways to impart knowledge and education, and it has opened new educational possibilities for some who prefer this method of learning, rather than the traditional classroom setting.

The purpose of this critical analysis of theoretical and empirical literature is to explore the relationships among, online student progress, student characteristics of successful online completers, and to identify areas of future scholarly inquiry. The review examines how social and academic integration are predictors of course performance and course persistence in course completion.

An exploratory (comparative) and explanatory and predictive (correlational) online survey research design employing survey research methods which will examine the relationships among demographic characteristics, distance education student progress, course performance, and course persistence of undergraduate students who take online courses. The sample population estimated to be approximately 1,100 students used in this study, consisted of non-traditional degree-seeking online students at a medium sized private university in south Florida. A total of 877 agreed to participate.

There are three implications the researcher believes to be important. The first implication of this research study reveals that there is a correlation between course performance (GPA) and student retention. It is interesting to note that students who withdrew from school showed a tendency to agree less with social integration questions and showed a lower GPA. The second implication deals with academic incompatibility. The academic incompatibility subscale had a low but significant positive correlation, and the third implication of this study reflects a statistical significance difference between the means of those students who remained and those who withdrew on the external attribution subscale. The research found that there are more female students taking online classes than men and the majority of these females are white. The research also found that social integration and academic incompatibility are important predicators in student retention and that academic incompatibility plays an important role in the GPA of students who withdrew.

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