Despite the tremendous growth of online education programs, student retention for online courses remains problematic. The attrition rate from online universities is often cited as 20% to 50% (Diaz, 2002). Studies also reveal that attrition from online programs can be as high as 70% to 80% (Dagger, Wade & Conlan, 2004).
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online course attrition
Students with learning disabilities tend to learn better in the online environment, but institutions are not doing enough to prepare instructors to meet their needs, says Mary Beth Crum, an online instructor at the University of Wisconsin—Stout and Walden University.
In “Social Dynamics of Online Learning: Pedagogical Imperatives and Practical Applications” the authors write that “Failure to address the social and relational dynamics within online courses may result in greater feelings of isolation among the distance learners, reduced levels of student satisfaction, peer academic performance, and ultimately increased attrition. … More often than not, most students wait for the professor to ‘do’ something that magically knits or binds them with others in meaningful ways.”
Institutions of higher education nearly always feel a budgetary crunch, and this holds true for online programs. However, the costs of running a successful online program run far beyond the expected line items of salaries, technology, and marketing. Faculty turnover and attrition can bring a number of serious but unanticipated costs to a program, costs that are may be poorly understood due to a lack of research identifying these costs.