Effects of Online Course Load on Degree Completion, Transfer, and Dropout among Community College Students of the State University of New York
Keywords:online learning, community college, retention, dropout, degree completion higher education
Research suggests that some students are at risk of lower levels of academic performance when studying online compared to students who take coursework only in the classroom. Community college students appear to be among those that struggle in online settings. In this paper, we hypothesize that online course load may influence outcomes for such students, especially those at risk for lower levels of degree attainment. To examine this, we conducted a statewide study using data from the 30 community colleges (n=45,557) of the State University of New York, to understand online course-load effects on degree completion, transfer, and dropout. We conclude that when controlling for covariates known to impact degree completion, on average, community college students who successfully complete online courses nearly double their chances (odds ratio=1.72) of earning a degree or transferring to a 4-year college. However, racial minority students had reduced outcomes and additional research is warranted.
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