Examining *interaction in online courses in relation to student performance and course retention

Dianna Zeh Rust, Tennessee State University

Abstract

This study examined if the amount of interaction in an online course made a difference in final grades and student retention rates as well as if students' perceptions of interaction made a difference in final grades and student retention rates in online courses. The population was all of the courses offered in the Tennessee Regents Online Degree Program during the Fall 2005 semester. A random sample of these courses (n = 124) was selected and students in the sample were administered a survey instrument. Data was also collected from the course software system WebCT. The significant findings in this study were: (1) A statistically significant positive relationship between the number of credit hours earned and final grade; (2) A statistically significant positive relationship between the email and discussion postings per person and the percentage of students who completed the course by receiving a final grade of A, B, C, or D; and (3) A statistically significant negative relationship between the percentage of students who officially withdrew from an online course and the email and discussion postings per person. Correlation tests indicated that there were significant positive relationships between students' perceptions of all three types of interaction---learner-to-learner, instructor-to-learner, and overall interaction---and their final grade. The majority of students (76%) in the sample would recommend the course to a friend. Recommendations forthcoming from this study include: (1) Further research on why students fail to complete their courses so that interventions can be implemented. (2) Advisors should recommend that students with fewer credit hours begin by taking one or two online courses. (3) Administrators may want to consider requiring new students to complete an orientation to online learning course. (4) A system-wide program of ongoing training should be implemented to teach course designers and faculty how to design and effectively use the interactive options in the online environment. (5) Online class sizes should remain manageable so faculty can respond to all student inquiries. (6) Faculty should as much as possible increase their response time to student questions, provide virtual office hours and provide students with timely feedback on graded assignments. ^

Subject Area

Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Technology of

Recommended Citation

Dianna Zeh Rust, "Examining *interaction in online courses in relation to student performance and course retention" (2006). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3211923.
http://digitalscholarship.tnstate.edu/dissertations/AAI3211923

Share

COinS