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The characteristics of the successful distance education student DISSERTATION

, George Mason University, United States

George Mason University . Awarded


This dissertation describes the challenges facing students in distance education online courses and the identified student, instructor and program traits that lead to student online success. The traits can be used by instructors to guide students toward success in their courses. A distance education public speaking course was designed that adapted the identified success traits using instructional design. The author conducted an in-depth review of the literature, which identified and listed the traits that researchers, instructors and students reported contribute to student online success. The traits are tried and proven according to researchers.

Additionally, a survey was designed for distance education community college students to obtain their perceptions of those factors involved in student success. Both the review of the literature and the survey provided the basis for this study. The outcome of the study determined that many traits can be (1) integrated into the course requirements, such as using online discussions to promote critical thinking, providing learning questions and activities, or using questionnaires to collect valuable information about students to design the course around. Moreover, (2) the instructor can utilize the traits in their teaching styles, such as using a student-centered approach that accommodates all student learning styles, and offering positive feedback and reinforcement to students, being easily accessible to students, and setting up a solid communication framework for students. Also, (3) success traits can be adopted by the instructor that are beneficial to students through their attitudes and interpersonal behavior with students, such as encouraging students, being friendly and approachable. (4) Instructors can teach success traits to students, such as technology orientations to help students learn new technologies and time management, good note taking and study skills. Finally, some success traits are (5) internal in students and can be encouraged and developed by the instructor such as, independence, self-direction and good cognitive skills. This dissertation is slated to be a reference and resource for distance education online courses.


Atwell, L.C. The characteristics of the successful distance education student. Ph.D. thesis, George Mason University. Retrieved March 23, 2018 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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