THE EFFECT OF EDUCATIONAL PRINCIPLES, POLICIES AND PRACTICES ON RETENTION IN ONLINE COURSES

M. Ryan, J. Ryan-Rojas

Ashford University (UNITED STATES)
This project measured the relationship among educational principles, policies and practices and their effect on retention in online undergraduate courses. As educational intuitions set guidelines and standards for professorial activity in online courses, their effects can be seen in various indices of student success. This study focused on benchmark participation rates and their effect on student retention. Initial results from a study of 1,227 students in 20 introductory psychology course sections measured one year apart seemed to demonstrate the result of policy and practice change related educational principals based on conventional educational theory. Those consequences via an analysis the relationship between the number of questions asked in threaded discussions, professorial response rates and dropout rates indicated a reduction of attrition. In effect, a high tech high touch policy was implemented. Correspondingly, the increased engagement by professors appeared to stimulate a more participatory environment for student response giving credence to Bandura’s Social Learning Theory – the notion that most human behavior is learned by observation and in turn this coded information then serves as a model for action. Thus, viewed within the context of high tech high touch and social learning theory these findings suggested the effect of empirically based education principals drove institutional policies and instructional practices in college level online education. These results may inform methodological approaches for future faculty training, development, and peer reviews.