Identification of high risk telecourse students utilizing locus of control and learning style



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Texas Tech University


In an attempt to attract nontraditional students and counteract stabilizing enrollment trends, many institutions of higher education have turned to offering telecourses. While telecourses are convenient and appeal to a certain segment of the student population, the attrition rate is higher than that of the equivalent on-campus classes.

The purpose of this study was to identify certain predictors of high risk telecourse students. The study included a history of telecourses and a review of the literature regarding telecourses, college attrition, Kolb's Learning Style Inventory (LSI), and Rotter's Internal-External Locus of Control Scale (RIELC).

Examined were students' locus of control as measured by the RIELC, learning style as measured by Kolb's LSI, and demographic characteristics as measured by a researcher-developed questionnaire, to determine their role in the successful completion of a college telecourse. The sample population was composed of 525 telecourse students enrolled in one or more of the nine telecourses offered by Odessa College, a West Texas community college, during a three-semester period.

The data revealed that 12 variables were significant in predicting lack of success in a telecourse. According to the study, the description of a high risk telecourse student is the following: the younger (aged 17-27), non-Anglo, single student, with fewer than 30 college credit hours completed, with a GPA lower than 3.0-2.9, enrolled in their first telecourse, with a higher than average RIELC score (above 7.6), a higher than average (2 6 or above) Concrete Experience score, a lower than average (31 or below) Abstract Conceptualization score, a lower than average (below 5) AC-CE score, and possessing a learning style of either a Diverger or an Accommodator.

It is hoped that this information can be used by colleges and universities—by both faculty members and counselors—to lower the comparatively high telecourse attrition rate through better identification, advisement, and tracking of these high risk telecourse students. The additional benefits of this study should be to add to the existing literature and research on telecourse attrition and to enable institutions to reduce telecourse attrition.