Examining Student Retention and Online Instructors with Online Student Experience: A Correlational Study
Institutions of higher education have experienced increased student enrollment in online courses for the past several years with no indication of slowing down. The problem institutions are experiencing is retention rates in online courses are typically lower than retention rates in the same courses delivered in a face-to-face environment. The purpose of the non-experimental, quantitative correlational study was to examine the statistical significance of the relationship between online instructors with experience as an online college student and retention rates in the instructor’s online course. Student retention rates of 50 individual courses taught by online adjunct instructors were examined. Twenty-five out of the 50 courses were taught by instructors with personal experience as an online learner. Twenty-five out of the 50 courses were taught by instructors without personal experience as an online learner. All instructors in the sample population taught general education courses, completed the same online faculty orientation, and the first course taught at the institution of study was examined to maintain a common baseline. The theoretical framework guiding the study focused on servant leadership and dimensions of social constructivism in online courses. There is a gap in the literature exploring the instructor’s personal experience as an online learner as the experience relates to student satisfaction and retention. A point-biserial correlation along with a post hoc independent t-test was run between instructors and student retention rates, determining no statistically significant correlation between instructors and student retention rates.