Type of Document Dissertation Author Seay, Cheryl Hogg Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-11082010-190845 Title An Examination of Factors Influencing Student Performance and Persistence in a Heavily-Text Based Secondary Online Learning Environment Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Marcy P. Driscoll Committee Chair Robert Reiser Committee Chair Vanessa Dennen Committee Member Carolyn Piazza University Representative Keywords
- Virtual Schools
- Secondary Online Learning
Date of Defense 2010-10-25 Availability unrestricted AbstractThe purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of how secondary education students perform and persist in a heavily text-based online learning environment. The study explored the following research questions:
1. How does reading achievement level influence learnersí performance and persistence in a heavily text-based secondary online learning environment?
2. How does student motivation influence learnersí performance and persistence in a heavily text-based secondary online learning environment?
3. How does the design of online instructional materials and the learnersí preferred mode of processing information influence learnersí performance and persistence in a heavily text-based secondary online learning environment?
4. What are studentsí perceptions of instructional effectiveness and how do these perceptions influence learnersí performance and persistence in a heavily text-based secondary online learning environment?
5. What are studentsí perceptions of school and parental support and how do these perceptions influence learnersí performance and persistence in a heavily text-based secondary online learning environment?
The study focused on students from low performing high schools who were enrolled in a state-required Florida Virtual School course, Life Management Course. The number of study participants was based on students enrolled in the course between August 2006 and July 2007, and a convenience sample of approximately 1,000 students were surveyed based on low-performing school enrollment data, course enrollment data and survey response rates for the Florida Virtual School.
The intent of the researcher was to use a two-phase sequential explanatory mixed methods approach to better understand this phenomenon. The first phase involved, data including state-based reading assessment scores and responses to survey instruments were collected for each participant. The second phase involved learner support surveys administered to each study participant and an examination of the course in which they were enrolled. The general design of the study in this phase was a multiple-case design in which each individual participant was the unit of analysis. A cross-case analysis was conducted to identify possible patterns that emerged from the analysis of the individual participants or single case. However, due to the nature of the data collected, the qualitative aspects of data became the researcherís primary focus.
The study involved two dependent variables: (1) student performance and (2) student persistence and the following independent variables: (1) student characteristics, (2) literacy skills, (3) motivation, (4) instructional design, (5) instructional effectiveness, and (6) learner support.
The actual sample size for the study was 965 participants; however, there were only eight respondents. A preliminary review of the data collected revealed that there was not variance in either the performance or persistence outcomes; each of the respondents not only passed the Life Management course, but also persisted and received a course grade. Due to this lack of variance, the researcher was unable to perform statistical analysis which might establish a predictive relationship between the dependent and independent variables of the study. However, through the development of summary profiles for each of the eight respondents and descriptive data, the researcher was able to make some general observations about the individual cases and the aggregate data. Limitations and implications of the study, as well as recommendations for future research are provided.
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