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A Review of Online Course Dropout Research: Implications for Practice and Future Research


Educational Technology Research and Development Volume 59, Number 5, ISSN 1042-1629


Although online learning is expanding in availability and popularity, the high dropout rates remain a challenging problem. In this paper, we reviewed the existing empirical studies on online course dropouts in post-secondary education that were published during the last 10 years. We identified 69 factors that influence students' decisions to dropout and classified them into three main categories: (a) "Student" factors, (b) "Course/Program" factors, and (c) "Environmental" factors. We then examined the strategies proposed to overcome these dropout factors: (a) understanding each student's challenges and potential, (b) providing quality course activities and well-structured supports, and (c) handling environmental issues and emotional challenges. Finally, we discussed issues regarding dropout factors and strategies for addressing these factors and offered recommendations for future research.


Lee, Y. & Choi, J. (2011). A Review of Online Course Dropout Research: Implications for Practice and Future Research. Educational Technology Research and Development, 59(5), 593-618. Retrieved September 25, 2020 from .

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