Online education draws more students each year through its flexible course schedules, asynchronous format, and cost effectiveness. All of these positive attributions, however, may also indicate the disparity of students entering online degree programs without graduating with a degree. According to the research conducted by Wallace E. Boston and Phil Ice in their journal article Assessing Retention in Online Learning: An Administrative Perspective, Boston and Ice studied a sampling of the undergraduate population at the American Public University System. The purpose of this study was to determine why the attrition rates for online students are higher than traditionally enrolled students and what measures can be taken to address these issues.
In this article published in the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Boston and Ice studied the undergraduate population especially students who fell into a category deemed by the Department of Education to be a high risk for attrition. This study yielded two significant results. First, online students may view their post-secondary courses as a test run for full-time enrollment in a traditional institution. They cited students are more apt to attend several institutions before graduating successfully. Secondly, online college administrators should look at the level of involvement of their students through various social media outlets. Students who are more engaged with other online students were more likely to complete their degree programs.
You can read the full article at Assessing Retention in Online Learning: An Administrative Perspective.