The persistence scale for online education: development of a psychometric tool
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Despite the popularity of online education, lack of persistence and attrition are problems faced by many colleges. Although multiple studies have been published about the best teaching methods for the online education environment, little is known about how to identify the student who is at risk of dropping from an online course. The lack of persistence has been identified as an important factor that leads to attrition among online nursing students worldwide. The objective of this research was to psychometrically test the Persistence Scale for Online Education (PSOE). The PSOE was specifically developed to measure the ability of the online nursing student to persist and complete an online program. The specific aims of this study were to obtain sufficient and appropriate data to determine the psychometric properties of this new instrument. The sample included nursing students (n=101) from two Midwestern universities enrolled in an online course. This cross-sectional study used a convenience sample. Data was collected using SurveyMonkeytm, a web-based format that provides response confidentiality. Results of a concept analysis on persistence were used to develop four constructs hypothesized to serve as attributes and antecedents to persistence. Items within the PSOE were developed from this analysis; thus, the PSOE uses four constructs to describe online experience and assesses persistence by responses to 23 Likert-scaled items. Potential participants received an email inviting them to participate in the study. Exploratory factor analysis was then used to determine the reliability and validity of the PSOE and the relationship of the constructs (inter-item correlations) hypothesized to contribute to persistence in the online student. Results indicate that the persistent student may be characterized as enjoying discussion, confident on passing, confidence in friendly interactions, believing that a challenging course will help achieve goals, looking forward to interactions, and not frequently upset by unexpected events. Conversely, while the non-persistent student may have personal strengths and succeed in their goals, he or she does not believe the course will increase job opportunities, does not enjoy discussion, does not believe a challenging course will help achieve goals, and does not have confidence in friendly interactions. It was also found that the non-persistent student may have a high grade point average, be under the age of 27 years, have completed greater than nine courses, and be enrolled in a BSN completion program. This study was conducted as a preliminary assessment of the ability of the PSOE to accurately discriminate between those students who are persistent and those who are at risk of dropping from an online course. Findings indicate the need for a larger sample size to increase generalizability and accurately conduct factor analysis.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Literature and theoretical framework -- Instrument development/psychometric analysis -- Results -- Discussion -- Appendix A. The persistence scale for Online Education -- Appendix B. Study invitation -- Appendix C. UMKC IRB approval