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Reducing Withdrawal Rates In Distance Learning Courses

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Learning & Teaching Issues

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1046.1 - 9.1046.15



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Paper Authors

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Vladimir Briller

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John Carpinelli

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1331

Reducing Withdrawal Rates in Distance Learning Courses

Vladimir Briller and John D. Carpinelli New Jersey Institute of Technology


Distance learning courses have been shown to be as effective as face-to-face classes for student learning. However, these courses suffer higher withdrawal rates than courses taught in a traditional classroom setting. The New Jersey Institute of Technology surveyed students that had withdrawn from one or more distance learning courses to identify factors that lead to withdrawal as a first step in formulating strategies to reduce overall withdrawal rates. Factors surveyed covered preparedness for the course, communication with the instructor, teaching, course materials, technology, course expectations, participation, and the learning environment. Primary factors have been identified, including the level of interaction between the instructor and the class, and the perceived difficulty of the distance learning class as compared to the face-to-face version of the same course. This paper presents the results of this study and recommends strategies to reduce the withdrawal rate of students in distance learning courses.

1. Introduction

There are several studies of the performance of students in traditional, face-to-face courses offered in distance learning mode, for example [1]. In general, these studies show no significant difference in student performance between the two modes of instruction. However, they are typically limited to the performance of students that complete the course, and do not account for students that withdraw before the end of the semester. Studies have shown that students in distance learning courses have significantly higher rates of withdrawal than students in equivalent face-to-face versions of the same course [2]. In this paper, we examine the reasons that students withdraw from distance learning courses and factors that significantly impact the withdrawal rate. This study is based on a survey of students that have withdrawn from various undergraduate and graduate courses in computer and information sciences (CIS) at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and considers factors relating to the students preparedness for the distance learning course; level of communication with the instructor; teaching and course materials; technology issues; student course expectations; student participation in the class; and the learning environment. The rest of this paper is organized as follows. The research questions and research design are presented next, followed by a description of the data collection and analysis procedures.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering

Briller, V., & Carpinelli, J. (2004, June), Reducing Withdrawal Rates In Distance Learning Courses Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13716

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