Friday, March 21, 2014

Factors Related to Success, Part 2

Continuing from the previous post, what are some of the internal factors that play a role in student success in online courses?

Technology Skills

It should seem obvious that a student would need to have a grasp of computer technology to be successful in an online environment. Further, it would seem that having prior experience with online learning would also play a factor. However, research is mixed regarding how previous experience with online learning affects future performance in online courses (Roblyer et al., 2008). In other words, just because a student has taken an online course in the past does not predict successful completion of future online courses.

Content area knowledge and GPA

Prior knowledge in the content area and overall GPA tend to be good predictors of performance in online courses (Roblyer et al, 2008). This can lead to several concerns, however. First, we must consider the online student and the reasons why he or she is enrolled in an online course. On one hand, if a student has been successful in a math course, an online advanced math course may be a good fit for the student. However, if the student is taking a course online for credit recovery, it is clear that the student has not been successful with the content (i.e., low knowledge of the content area). Per the research by Kim et al. (2014) in the last post, this can be especially problematic with regards to isolation and self-efficacy.

Combinations of factors

Several attempts have been made to predict student success in online courses. One of the most recent attempts has been the use of the Educational Success Prediction Instrument (ESPRI*). While undergoing several revisions (see Roblyer & Marshall, 2003 and Roblyer et al., 2008), the ESPRI is a validated instrument that has been shown to predict student success in online courses with an accuracy rate of approximately 90%. The survey instrument asks Likert-style questions in four areas: technology self-efficacy, achievement beliefs, organization beliefs, and risk-taking beliefs (i.e., as related to taking risks in the classroom).

Within the Framework for Research in Online K-12 Distance Education proposed by Corry & Stella (2012), this research falls under "learners."

In a followup post, I will discuss my own use of the ESPRI in a blended high school Science class, as well as request a call for groups or individuals who are interested in participating in a future study involving the ESPRI.

*a copy of the ESPRI is available at

Corry, M., & Stella, J. (2012). Developing a framework for research in online K-12 distance education. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 13(3), 133-151.

Roblyer, M.D., Davis, L., Mills, S.C., Marshall, J., & Pape, L. (2008). Toward practical procedures for predicting and promoting success in virtual school students. The American Journal of Distance Education, 22(2), 90-109.

Roblyer, M.D., & Marshall, J.C. (2003). Predicting success of virtual high school students: Preliminary results from an educational success prediction instrument. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 35(2), 241-255.

No comments:

Post a Comment