Development of the Student Expectations of Online Learning Survey (SEOLS): A Pilot Study

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Publication Date

Winter 1-1-2011

Originally Published In

Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration

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The problem of attrition in online learning has drawn attention from distance education administrators and chief academic officers of higher education institutions. Many studies have addressed factors related to student attrition, persistence and retention in online courses. However, few studies have examined how student expectations influence student retention and persistence in online learning. There is a need for a systematic method of addressing the relationship between student expectations and persistence in online education. This study investigated the reliability of the Student Expectations of Online Learning Survey (SEOLS) as a tool for assessing student expectations for elements of online courses. The 44 items on the survey are distributed among 7 scales. The pilot study consisted of 17 students enrolled in online courses of a master’s level counseling program at a mid-sized Midwestern University in the United States. Results revealed good to excellent reliability indices for the scales that ranged from α = .64 to α = .95. Data from the pilot study indicated that the SEOLS is an instrument that can be used to reliably assess student expectations of the online learning environment. The authors present a discussion for use of the instrument and implications for future research.