Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Sydney Parent


At a large, public, 4-year college in the United States, the attrition rate for students taking online classes is 10% greater than for those taking face-to-face classes. Although the college ranks among the top in graduation rates both statewide and nationally, the research problem was the gap in attrition rates between online and face-to-face students. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore online faculty and online student perspectives regarding why students drop out of online courses at one state college and what recommendations they have for improving retention in online courses. Tinto’s model of institutional departure served as the conceptual framework, with data collection consisting of Microsoft Teams semistructured interviews with five online faculty and six online student participants. The interview data were coded leading to nine emerging themes, including the skill level of the online student, time management, communication between the faculty member and student, course content, course design, and external factors impacting the online student. The results indicated that online learners drop out of online courses for reasons, such as family issues, lack of communication between the faculty member and the student, lack of time management skills, and lack of knowledge as to what is required in an online course. The recommendations for improving online student retention will be shared with online faculty in a professional development training. The professional development may provide a positive social change in which more online students persist, are retained, and graduate with their degree, resulting in them becoming employed in better paying careers and have a lasting impact on support to their local community.