Date of Award

7-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Education (M.Ed.)

Department

College of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Sean Lancaster

Second Advisor

Dr. Paula Lancaster

Third Advisor

Dr. Deepak Subramony

Abstract

The problem explored in this study stems from the paradox between the growing number of online classes and the decreasing retention rate of students who take online classes. In order to understand the reasons behind this decreasing retention rate the study is aimed at revealing barriers students encounter when taking online courses. The second main area of the study is to determine whether or not differences exist between students who want to take online classes and those who do not want to take online classes. Answers to the first research question were obtained by gathering and analyzing survey responses.

Multiple Mann-Whitney U Tests were conducted to answer the second research question. The p-value was calculated in order to determine whether a significant difference exists between groups at p< .005. In addition, means and standard deviations were reported to compare and contrast the results between groups of students. Summarizing students’ concerns towards online education, interaction and collaboration, as well as confusing layout/organization, were reported as areas that cause barriers in online and hybrid environments.

The use of asynchronous, collaborative tools is recommended for improvement of students’ motivation and attitudes towards online learning. For mandatory online classes in which the majority of enrolled students do not want to take an online class, the course organization should be very simple. Email or text messaging should be used for nearly each type of collaboration. In addition, the instructor should be mindful of course layout and response time to student questions.

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