Investigating Student Satisfaction and Retention in Online High School Courses
Rogers, Susan Haley
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Caddo Parish Public Schools (CPPS) provides virtual courses via Education2020.com for students wanting to accelerate their studies or repeat coursework. Currently, anecdotal comments from students, parents, and school personnel and student data are the only feedback CPPS uses to evaluate its online program. The purpose of the current study was to assess student satisfaction and retention in the CPPS summer school program. I employed a mixed methods approach, utilizing the district?s database and responses from student surveys and interviews to analyze student academic performance, evaluate variables, and understand student experiences from the 2013 CPPS online summer school program. Student participants were sorted into four unique groups: (a) students taking a course for the first time who subsequently earned course credit, (b) students taking a course for the first time who subsequently did not earn course credit, (c) students repeating a course who subsequently earned course credit, and (d) students repeating a course who subsequently did not earn course credit. For the purposes of this study, student participants identified as repeating a course had completed the original course in either (a) a face-to-face classroom or (b) an online environment. Independent t-tests were used to determine whether statistically significant differences existed between student populations. Results from significance testing of data from the Education2020.com database for CPPS students revealed no statistically significant differences among demographic and academic variables. Similarly, only trivial effect sizes were identified. Student survey and interview responses affirmed that higher student satisfaction was associated with enrollment in electives, students who earned credit, students who repeated courses, and female students. Students who earned credit were self-motivated, investing considerable time and effort into their courses. Conversely, students who did not earn credit did not accept personal responsibility for their learning and had difficulty with course pacing. Data from this record of study indicate that helping students adopt effective learning strategies raises their chances of completing their online courses and increasing their satisfaction with the online program.