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I am interested in any comparison studies of e-learning drop out rates


Are you aware of any comparison studies of drop out rates of e- learning students with no tutor support ie e- mail, phone or face to face contact compared with those who have no additional tutor support? I am particularly interested in IT applications training field.
Thank you.
Julie Thomas

2 Responses

  1. e-learning drop out rates
    Dear Julie

    I am not aware of any studies that specifically address this issue but in my experience the services provided by a skilled e-Tutor are the key to ensuring acceptable completion rates.

    In “Do Not Pass Go” , Steve Alexander (OnlineLearning Magazine, vol. 6, no. 3, March 2002, pp. 14-16) writes that a “recent study of 4,100 online learners [in corporate universities] showed course completion rates of 30 percent, or a drop-out rate of 70 percent. This rate is far higher than the classroom drop-out rate of 15 percent, according to the study.

    The article is available on the Web at:


  2. Drop outs drop off in communication-rich environments
    Hi Julie,

    For several years I have seen the drop-out surveys and have railed against the simplistic mythical “statistics” that they put into popular perception. Yes, an awful lot of people fail to complete online courses, but then a lot of online courses are simply awful. You can’t make a blanket statement about e-learning without breaking it down into meaningful segments.

    We have been providing Web-based e-learning courses with and without a strong online mentor component since around 1997. Some courses have had more than 10,000 learners take them. Wherever there is no mentor component, we advocate building into the courses the need to communicate with fellow learners (e.g. through syndicate groups, by posting to discussion threads, or by participating in chat groups). Completion rates have always been very high (upper 90% range).

    Admittedly, the mentor-guided courses are usually certification courses, so learner motivation is strong.

    You also need to take into account the fact that completion may be an irrelevant measure of course success. An e-learner can far more efficiently get what he/she needs from an online course than they can in a classroom, where they have to sit through the whole linear experience. The key question is: did the learners achieve their individual learning objectives, not did they complete the course.

    Godfrey Parkin
    [email protected]


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