A review of online course dropout research: implications for practice and future research

Abstract

Although online learning is expanding in availability and popularity, the high dropout rates remain a challenging problem. In this paper, we reviewed the existing empirical studies on online course dropouts in post-secondary education that were published during the last 10 years. We identified 69 factors that influence students’ decisions to dropout and classified them into three main categories: (a) Student factors, (b) Course/Program factors, and (c) Environmental factors. We then examined the strategies proposed to overcome these dropout factors: (a) understanding each student’s challenges and potential, (b) providing quality course activities and well-structured supports, and (c) handling environmental issues and emotional challenges. Finally, we discussed issues regarding dropout factors and strategies for addressing these factors and offered recommendations for future research.

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*These references make up the 35 past empirical studies that we reviewed

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Correspondence to Youngju Lee.

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Lee, Y., Choi, J. A review of online course dropout research: implications for practice and future research. Education Tech Research Dev 59, 593–618 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-010-9177-y

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Keywords

  • Dropout factors
  • Online course
  • Strategies
  • Higher education
  • Future research