The impact of distance education course experience and coping style on first year university achievement and attrition

Dodd, Charlene A. (2008) The impact of distance education course experience and coping style on first year university achievement and attrition. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

In the past, some secondary students in rural areas of Newfoundland and Labrador have experienced difficulty accessing courses necessary for graduation or entrance to post-secondary studies. This has largely been the result of inadequate resources such as the ability to recruit and retain teachers with the appropriate subject matter expertise to schools in rural areas. However, the Center for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI) has helped level the playing field for students from rural areas of the province by offering online, technology based distance education courses. As a result, students who graduate from high schools in rural areas of Newfoundland and Labrador comprise two groups of students: a) those who completed one or more distance education courses through the Center for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI) and b) those who completed their high school education entirely in the traditional, face-to-face classroom context. -- Previous research has argued that distance education is equivalent or, in some circumstances, more effective than education delivered through the traditional face-to-face classroom medium (Ungerleider & Burns, 2003; Ryan, 1996; Bernard, Yiping, & Abrami, 2002; Shachar & Newman, 2003). However, little is known about how participation in online distance education courses during high school influences how students experience or cope with their transition to post-secondary studies, and how this may affect first year post-secondary achievement and subsequent attrition. Two studies were designed to explore this. -- The purpose of Study 1 was to examine the effect of CDLI course experience on first year achievement and attrition in three cohorts of first year students using archival data. The purpose of Study 2 was to further explore the effect of previous distance education experience on first year achievement and subsequent attrition in a sample of first year students, and to assess the role of coping in this process. -- Data were analyzed using a combination of logistic regression and structural equation modeling techniques. Results from Study 1 revealed a significant effect of CDLI course experience on first year outcomes in a direction favoring CDLI experience. The results of Study 2 revealed no statistically significant difference between CDLI and non-CDLI students with regard to achievement, attrition or coping during the transition to post-secondary studies. No negative effect of previous distance education experience on first year post-secondary achievement or attrition was found. -- Taken together, these results suggest students who have taken one or more CDLI courses are not disadvantaged during the first year transition period. These results support distance education as a viable alternative for students from rural areas of the province interested in expanding their course selection options for personal reasons, to meet high school graduation requirements or criteria necessary for acceptance to post-secondary institutes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9374
Item ID: 9374
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 123-139).
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 2008
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: College freshmen--Newfoundland and Labrador; Distance education--Newfoundland and Labrador; Education, Secondary--Newfoundland and Labrador; Rural schools--Newfoundland and Labrador

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