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ERIC Number: EJ854503
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 13
ISSN: ISSN-1552-3233
Term Length as an Indicator of Attrition in Online Learning
Diaz, David; Cartnal, Ryan
Innovate: Journal of Online Education, v2 n5 Jun-Jul 2006
Distance education cannot escape comparisons to traditional classes, and critics of distance education frequently point to the higher drop rate in distance education as evidence of its lower educational quality. While David Diaz and Ryan Cartnal note that this conclusion is a debatable one, they acknowledge that reducing drop rates in online courses should still be on the agenda for college administrators. In order to shed more light on the question of attrition in online courses, they offer the results of an ad hoc study that examines whether shorter term lengths may help reduce the drop rates for such courses; the study also addresses whether student demographics may reveal other factors that lead to attrition. The study compares eight sections of a health course that were offered in different formats during different term lengths: two online sections offered during a six-week summer term, two online sections offered during a nine-week term, two online sections offered during an eighteen-week term, and two traditional sections offered during an eighteen-week term. Based on the data they gathered, Diaz and Cartnal conclude that while demographic differences characterized the traditional and online courses, the dramatically lower drop rates for the six-week and nine-week online sections indicate that shorter term length was a key variable affecting student attrition among the student populations. Observing that many students cite "time requirements" as an obstacle to taking an online course, Diaz and Cartnal argue that shorter term lengths may offer a simple way for institutions to help more students successfully complete online courses. (Contains 4 figures.)
Fischler School of Education and Human Services. Nova Southeastern University, 1750 NE 167th Street, North Miami Beach, FL 33162. Tel: 800-986-3223; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A