at-risk students, case study, K-12 online learning, virtual schooling


While much of the growth in the popularity of virtual schooling has involved at-risk students, little research exists on the experiences of these students in this largely independent setting. This paper describes a case study of an at-risk student in a rural school in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador who was enrolled in an online course as a means to graduate on time. Data from interviews and video observations were analyzed to reveal several themes. The student was good at prioritizing and understood what students needed to do to succeed in an online environment, yet he often did only the minimum needed to pass the course, and his productivity during synchronous and asynchronous sessions declined as the hour progressed. We also found that the student was limited by the lack of proper technology at home. Based on a single case, we are unable to generalize beyond this one student. However, since the attitude of taking the path of least resistance may have taken hold in earlier grades for this particular student, research into improving virtual schooling for at-risk students may be ineffective or counterproductive by reinforcing rather than reducing those attributes; at least in this instance.


Original Citation: Barbour, Michael K., and Jason Siko. “Virtual Schooling through the Eyes of an At-Risk Student: A Case Study.” European Journal of Open, Distance, and E-learning (2012). Barbour_Siko.pdf.