Student Persistence—and Teaching Strategies to Support It

Authored by: Tina M. Stavredes , Tiffany M. Herder

Handbook of Distance Education

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415897648
eBook ISBN: 9780203803738
Adobe ISBN: 9781136635571


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Learners often choose online learning because they may select a school or program that fits their educational goals rather than choosing one based on the best options available in their geographic area. However, online learners must overcome many challenges to persist and successfully achieve their goals. Persistence refers to learners’ actions to continue their education from the first year until degree completion. Evidence suggests that dropout rates among distance learners are higher than traditional, campus-based learners (Allen & Seaman, 2009). Therefore, it is critical to understand the factors that contribute to learners dropping out and to develop effective strategies to support learners persist in learning. A review of persistence models appropriate for the online learner population provides the foundation for understanding important academic factors that impact learner persistence. Then, we will consider how building a community of inquiry and providing appropriate scaffolding to support online learners can support them academically to achieve their educational goals.

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