The Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education

Should I Stay, or Should I Go? Revisiting Student Retention Models in Distance Education


Supporters of distance education highlight the many advantages of online learning as compared to face-to-face education, such as greater openness, diversity of teaching materials, adjustment to student learning styles, the speed of learning, and more. Despite the advantages, the growing number of programs, and the increased acceptance of distance education in national strategies worldwide, distance learning providers are faced with the problem of dropouts. Studies have shown that the dropout rate in distance educational programs is higher than the dropout rate in traditional programs. Understanding of the reasons and determinants behind dropping out of an educational program is a challenging task for educators, researchers, and policy-makers. In this paper, we describe the main characteristics of distance education, and analyze the models that try to describe and prevent students from dropping out of these programs. Our analysis suggests that the circumstances that affect the dropout rate should be considered in the planning and implementation of distance education programs.

KEYWORDS: Distance education, dropout, retention models, information and communication technologies in education.