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.
"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).