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Student attrition: Why learners decide to withdraw from an online programme

The Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice is an online programme, and is the only programme of its type available in New Zealand that. Working in this online environment, Catherine de Monchy from the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, and the team were keen to know why students drop out of their programme. There was a cap on numbers, and a huge waiting list. This posed some practical challenges. In the first two weeks of semester, if students withdrew in the first 2 weeks of semester, it meant that their spaces could not be filled.

Catherine conducted a study to explore why students were dropping out from the programme. They have conducted interviews and gathered data from 32 students to date. 18% of students have dropped out to date. 65% of the students who dropped out were second language English students, and 60% of drop outs were in the full time class (compared to 8% of enrolments) 21 of the interviewees indicted that external motivation as a reason for dropping out, and 11 indicated that internal motivation for dropping out.

The next steps are to work more with the data, and to have some discussion with the external motivators and whether any of those might be pre-empted with targeted information or a service. For internal motivations, services such as access to tutors may be an option.

Very much looking forward to those further findings.

Image: 'Sanding Disc Scan http://www.flickr.com/photos/90391304@N00/14971815112. ;Found on flickrcc.net

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