New Research Sheds Light on Online Student Success Drivers

Eduventures recently surveyed 28,000 students enrolled in an online degree program, mostly adult learners over the age of 25, with a goal of identifying those triggers that impact a student’s ability to succeed in an online learning environment.

As the industry experiences growth in the post-traditional student market, online learning allows these students an opportunity to balance work, life, and school commitments. Yet, depending on the type of student, online learning may or may not be the most effective means of degree completion.

The Eduventures research, published under its Wake-Up Call, breaks out the factors driving or hindering online success by high performing students and poorly performing students. The results show the top indicators and priorities to be drastically different among the two groups.

While the majority of students surveyed fell into the high-performers camp, the Eduventures research found the following:

  • High performing students: Their overall basis for success is driven by clear course objectives and expectations.  Also ranked near the top of the list were ease-of-use of the technology and acceptable course pace. Additionally, the research noted that other factors, including attention from faculty, peer interaction and advising/tutoring were also important, but a much lower priority.
  • Poorly performing students: Personal distractions, including work and family, topped the list by a large percentage for this group. The pace of their courses moving too quickly came in second, just ahead of these students struggling with motivation, unclear objectives, and lack of faculty and peer interaction.

Colleges and universities offering online degree programs are challenged to enroll the right kinds of students and support these students in the right ways in order to keep them progressing toward graduation. Getting to know students up front – their learning style, life commitments, and more – can go a long way in matching students with the appropriate programs and helping both high and low performers maximize their online learning experience.

Colleen McConeghy

As a Regional Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Colleen works directly with institutions to find, enroll, retain, and teach more students, driving both institutional and student success. Colleen has more than 15 years of higher education experience both inside and outside of the classroom and holds a certificate in Change Management from Prosci in addition to her master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado.