2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM


DUNAGAN, Stan P., Geology, Geography, and Physics; Online and University Studies, University of Tennessee at Martin, 215 EPS Building, Martin, TN 38238, LOVELACE, Ann Marie, Department of Educational Studies; Online and University Studies, University of Tennessee at Martin, 227 Administration Building, Martin, TN 38238 and CATES, Tommy, Department of Management, Marketing, and Political Science; Online and University Studies, University of Tennessee at Martin, 227 Administration Building, Martin, TN 38238, sdunagan@utm.edu

Student performance and attrition rates were examined for over 1200 students who enrolled in introductory-level physical geology courses over the last five years at the University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM). During the study period, introductory-level physical geology courses were taught in both a traditional face-to-face (F2F) format and an online format. Face-to face offerings include traditional on-campus courses, off-campus evening courses at satellite campuses, and dual-credit courses offered at local high schools; online courses were delivered using Blackboard courseware.

Student performance was measured using two metrics: 1) composite student grades (on a 4.00 scale) for each physical geology section, and 2) the percentage of students that attained a grade of “C” or above. The attrition (drop) rate was calculated using the permanent enrollment (a 14-day census at UTM) and the number of students who dropped or withdrew from each physical geology section. The high school students (n = 20) taking dual credit physical geology courses exhibited the highest performance (mean GPA of 3.69 and 100% of the students attaining a “C” or higher) and the lowest attrition rates (0 %). Traditional on-campus students (n = 1091) performed the lowest with a mean GPA of 2.13 and with only 71 % of students attaining a “C” or higher grade. The drop rate for on-campus students was 5 %. Off-campus students (n = 40) taking physical geology had a mean GPA of 2.62 with 81 % earning a “C” or higher grade and 4 % attrition rate. Online students (n = 80) had a mean GPA of 2.38 with 78 % earning a “C” or higher grade, which was better than the traditional on-campus students; however, the attrition rate among online students was 26 %.

Variations in student performance and attrition are attributed the different modes of delivery (online vs. face-to-face) and the differences in student demographics (traditional on-campus vs. high school vs. non-traditional students). Intervention strategies for reducing student attrition will be discussed.