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Persistence in Online Classes:  A Study of Perceptions among Community College Stakeholders

Persistence in Online Classes:  A Study of Perceptions among Community College Stakeholders

Because online learning presents unique challenges for not only learners but faculty and administrators as well, those involved in these cyber-environments must think beyond the boundaries of the traditional classroom.  This study examined the perceptions of online persistence factors, those characteristics which influence student retention, as seen by the three major stakeholders in community college distance education programs:  administrators, faculty, and students.  The purpose of the study was to determine which factors are most important among the three groups and where those perceptions converge since lack of convergence could be a factor resulting in high attrition rates of some online courses. While the results of this study indicated that the perceptions of administrators and faculty are more closely aligned than either is with the students' perceptions, they also show a recognition among all groups of stakeholders of online learning as an evolving phenomenon which requires attention to even the most minute details which are sometimes overlooked, not emphasized, or taken for granted.  This recognition indicates a necessary paradigm shift, which will lead to improvements in online learning policy, design, and pedagogy, is in the making.  

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