Student Persistence Online


As we continue to teach online, many are concerned with how we can help our students maintain focus. A 2012 literature review entitled "Factors Associated With Student Persistence in an Online Program of Study" by Hart examines factors associated with the ability of students to persist online. Factors associated with student persistence include

  • self-efficacy;

  • satisfaction with online learning;

  • a sense of belonging to the learning community;

  • motivation;

  • peer, and family support;

  • time management skills; and

  • and increased communication with the instructor.

Factors unrelated to knowledge have the ability to provide support, thus allowing students to overcome hardships in completing a course. Holder (2007) finds self-efficacy can help differentiate the persistent student from one who will not complete the course.

Barriers to persistence include engagement, basic computer skills and access; college status; isolation; non-academic issues; and poor communication.

A tangent to persistence is grades (assessment, measurement and evaluation). Christman (2020) recently wrote the article, "Grades are stupid. We should take this opportunity to get rid of them for good" as part of a Chronicle series entitled, "How Will the Pandemic Change Higher Education?" The author notes that we are all "ungraders" now and summarizes the research,

"We learn best when we’re intrinsically motivated and deeply involved in a task; grades are distracting extrinsic factors that actually reduce student motivation. They are famously unreliable and, in their vagueness and subjectivity, they let implicit biases — racism, classism, sexism — run rampant. They do not improve performance as well as descriptive feedback."

Hart, C. (2012). Factors Associated With Student Persistence in an Online Program of Study. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 11(1).

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