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Predicting student success in online courses at a rural Alabama community college

, Mississippi State University, United States

Mississippi State University . Awarded


Community colleges have utilized distance education to reach previously underserved populations. Considering the educational opportunities afforded by increased Internet access and the history of community colleges of providing open access to all individuals, it is no wonder that distance education has grown as a means of extending education in rural areas. Along with taking advantage of these opportunities, community colleges must also be committed to the success of students in the online environment. There is a need to identify individual student characteristics that predict success in the online environment in order to provide appropriate course enrollment advising. This study examines demographic and educational variables of online students at Bevill State Community College, with the goal of identifying the predictive ability of student characteristics on success in online courses.

Online learners at Bevill State were mostly females and roughly half had completed an introductory computer course before enrolling in an online class. The average age of the participants was 25.57. These individuals had an average GPA of 3.07 and had completed an average of 4.56 semesters of college. Overall, 71.1% of the participants were successful in the online course in which they were enrolled, having achieved a grade of D or higher.

The logistic regression model of five predictor variables was 72% accurate in predicting student success and non-success. Results show that the major factors influencing whether a person is successful in online classes are: age at the time of enrollment, overall GPA before enrollment, and the number of semesters of previous college experience. These findings indicate that students who are older, have more experience in college, and who have had more success in the traditional classroom may be more likely to be successful in the online environment. As online education continues its growth, identifying factors that help to distinguish between those who may be successful and those who may not will help students, advisors, and administrators make informed decisions about course enrollments. Future research should include a variety of methodologies to further explore the variables identified here as well as others that may influence student success in the online environment.


Cummings, L.A. Predicting student success in online courses at a rural Alabama community college. Ph.D. thesis, Mississippi State University. Retrieved March 26, 2019 from .

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

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