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Designing Online Courses to Promote Student Retention

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Journal of Educational Technology Systems Volume 36, Number 1, ISSN 0047-2395


Although the issue of student retention is a campus-wide one, it is of special interest in online distance learning courses, where retention rates are reported to be lower than in face-to-face classes. Among the explanations and theories of retention rates in online courses, one that struck us as most useful is a structural one, namely, course design. The question we raise is, can online course designs promote student retention? In this article, we report on how we used Quality Matters to design and revise online courses in psychology and statistics. Quality Matters, a research-based initiative, advocates the use of eight general review standards to review online courses. In our psychology and statistics courses, our retention rate across multiple offerings of both courses is approximately 95%.


Dietz-Uhler, B., Fisher, A. & Han, A. (2008). Designing Online Courses to Promote Student Retention. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 36(1), 105-112. Retrieved January 20, 2022 from .

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