• Instructor-student relationships and attrition rates among students enrolled in developmental asynchronous online courses

      Leiter, Gary E.; Renes, Susan L.; Topkok, Sean Asiqluq; Anahita, Sine; Stuive, Christina; Graham, M. Lee (2020-05)
      Most universities and colleges offer the option of online courses, but there is concern over the high student attrition rates in these courses. The dropout rate within the online environment, especially those enrolled in developmental courses, is significantly higher than that of face-to-face courses. Students taking developmental online courses struggle with the same challenges as the traditional college student, but they often have a more demanding personal schedule, lower self-confidence, and are often confused by the online environment (Croxton, 2014; Gaytan, 2015). Each of these struggles strongly influences student attrition and must be overcome to ensure course completion. Although there is literature focusing on the attrition rates of online courses, very little takes the student perspective into account, and whether student-teacher relationships in developmental asynchronous courses can be linked to course satisfaction leading to persistence. This study examined whether a relationship between the instructor and the student might build self-determination in students, help them through their challenges, and possibly lower the attrition rates among students enrolled in developmental asynchronous online courses at the University of Alaska. This study followed a qualitative approach specifically using the phenomenological methodology using individual interviews of 30 students who had been previously enrolled in developmental asynchronous online courses. Three themes emerged as central to student dissatisfaction: the instructor's lack of communication, not being personable with students, and a confusing and complicated course structure. This study is significant in that it helps institutions better understand their need to take an active role to encourage student persistence.