Date of Conferral







Steven Linnville


There is a growing demand for online education; however, online programs yield consistently lower student retention rates and student success. Students in online programs are typically nontraditional students from underrepresented populations in higher education. The purpose of this nonexperimental quantitative study was to determine whether dialogue (learner–learner, learner–instructor, and learner–content interactions) and course modality (traditional online and competency-based education [CBE] online) predicted student success (final course grade). Moore’s model of transactional distance served as the theoretical framework for this study, specifically the dialogue component. Participants were 127 online higher education students who took (successfully or unsuccessfully) a traditional online course or CBE online course within the last 6 months. Participants completed a demographic survey and the Distance Education Learning Environment Survey. Ordinal logistic regression was used to analyze data. Results indicated that learner–instructor interactions were a significant predictor of student success. Course modality was not a significant predictor. Although not significant, learner–learner interactions were a marginal predictor of student success. Results may be used to inform positive social change through program and course development to increase the likelihood of success for traditionally underrepresented populations.