Key takeaways from Author Papia Bawa’s research
Author Papia Bawa (Purdue U) explores some of the underlying issues students face when taking their first online class, as well as ways instructors and institutions can promote success in the online classroom.
Learners decide to complete some or all of their coursework based on a few circumstances, such as flexibility, personal life, virtual anonymity, and course offering. However, there are some factors instructors, institutions, and the learners themselves do not take into consideration when navigating the online environment. Learners experience barriers related to culture and technology that can lead to attrition, as well as motivational factors, such as having a sense of control, feeling competent, and feeling included (Bawa 2). Learners who apply face-to-face expectations to online environments are at risk for dropping out, too.
Similarly, instructors and institutions arrive to the online table with their own set of challenges. If an instructor is a “digital immigrant,” he or she may struggle keeping up or understanding the digital native community, i.e. the younger student population (Bawa 6). However, even if a learner is a digital native, he or she is not necessarily well-versed in educational technology. This is where the institution plays a critical role in making sure that its instructors are trained properly, and not assuming that a veteran face-to-face instructor understands, and can assist students with, navigating the online learning environment.
So, what are some potential solutions to improve student retention rates? Bawa suggests the following:
There are quite a few key takeaways from Bawa’s research and suggestions. Again, refrain from making assumptions about a digital native’s tech savviness or about a seasoned f2f instructor’s skills level within an online environment. Further, instructors and institutions should keep in mind that there are multiple outside factors that influence a student’s decision to join or leave the online learning community. It is our responsibility to ensure we equip ourselves with the knowledge to identify these circumstances in order to improve our success rates.
Bawa, P. (2016). Retention in online courses: exploring issues and solutions- a literature review. SAGE Open, 1-11. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2158244015621777
By Audra Pickett, Professional Development and Teaching Excellence Specialist at CCCOnline