Factors Influencing Adult Learners’ Decision to Drop Out or Persist in Online Learning
Department of Education, Kookmin University, Seoul, Korea // email@example.com
Hee Jun Choi
Department of Education, Hongik University, Seoul, Korea // firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT: The number of adult learners who participate in online learning has rapidly grown in the last two decades due to online learning’s many advantages. In spite of the growth, the high dropout rate in online learning has been of concern to many higher education institutions and organizations. The purpose of this study was to determine whether persistent learners and dropouts are different in individual characteristics (i.e., age, gender, and educational level), external factors (i.e., family and organizational supports), and internal factors (i.e., satisfaction and relevance as sub-dimensions of motivation). Quantitative data were collected from 147 learners who had dropped out of or finished one of the online courses offered from a large Midwestern university. Dropouts and persistent learners showed statistical differences in perceptions of family and organizational support, and satisfaction and relevance. It was also shown that the theoretical framework, which includes family support, organizational support, satisfaction, and relevance in addition to individual characteristics, is able to predict learners’ decision to drop out or persist. Organizational support and relevance were shown to be particularly predictive. The results imply that lower dropout rates can be achieved if online program developers or instructors find ways to enhance the relevance of the course. It also implies that adult learners need to be supported by their organizations in order for them to finish online courses that they register for.
Keywords: Adult dropout/retention/persistence, Online/distance learning, Theoretical framework for online dropout