Quantitative Investigation of the Satisfaction of Older Adult Learners in Digital Technology
In the past two decades, the number of the adult learners who engages in online learning has grown rapidly due to the many advantages of online learning. However, as much as there is growth in the number of adult learner using online leaning method, there is more concern because of the high rate of dropouts among many higher education organizations and institutions. The study purpose was to find out whether drop outs and the persistent learners have any differences in their individual characteristics such as educational level, gender, and age; the external factor s such as organizational support and family. The quantitative data used in the study was collected from 147 learners who had completed one of the programs in online courses offered or dropped out of the large university of Midwestern. The persistent and drop out learners showed statistical differences in organizational and family support perceptions, and relevance and satisfaction. Furthermore, it was indicated that the theoretical framework, which consists of organizational support, family support, relevance, satisfaction in addition to individual characteristics, has the ability of to predict the decisions of the learners to persist or to drop out. Relevance and organizational support were particularly shown to e predictive. The implications of the compiled results are that the organizations need to support their adult learners for them to complete their online courses they enrolled for.
There exist no simple solutions that will keep the adult students to persist with their online courses if not the support from their immediate families, the support of their organizations and their instructors. Some of the given reasons for the drop out, however seem more common and stronger, and therefore requires the student support. This is also connected to the factors that include the adult students themselves such as satisfaction, which plays a major part in the drop out or persistence with the online course (Park & Choi, 2009).
The study indicated that the adult learners have a higher likelihood of dropping out of their online courses when they do not get the much needed support from their organizations and families when they are going on with their online courses, regardless of the academic aspirations and preparations of the learners. Furthermore, the internal factors like the learner’s motivation and the design strategies of the course should be made a priority during at the stage of course development to make the course interesting and, more participatory and keep the adult learners more engaged in their academic work (Levy, 2006)). However, upon the launching of the course and now it is in progress, the course instructors and administrators should think about the external factors that might interrupt the participations and persistence of the learners (Levy, 2006).
It is of great importance to consider the situation of the learners while maintaining or managing the course. This will be helpful to the learners for them to get assistance when needed (Park & Choi, 2009). Furthermore, in situations where the instructor are very much aware that the adult learners of the online course are not receiving adequate support from their organizations or families, it is advisable that the instructor should help the learners to continue staying in the course by using motivational strategies that are appropriate, paying extra attention and also providing internal support. In fact, the support to the learner should be integrated from course’ beginning and continue through every stage. Because it is an online course, application of new technologies can enhance the role of the teacher as facilitator, coach and a tutor (Park & Choi, 2009).
In the study, it is concluded that the instructional designers should analyze systematically the external factors that surround the learners, and apply the results of the analysis in initiation of learning and in learner’s motivation so that the high rate of dropouts can be minimized. This study results support the importance of the identified external factor s that are overlooked easily by the instructional designers (Park & Choi, 2009).
This study also indicated that the drop outs had major differences in the learner’s perception on the relevance and satisfaction compared to the persistent learners (Levy (2006). In brief, the findings show that there is a lower likelihood of a learner dropping out when they are very much satisfied with the online courses. Similarly, the learners has a lesser likelihood of dropping out if the online course they have registered for are very much relevant to their own personal lives.
It is suggested from the results of the study that the satisfaction of the learners with the registered online course, and the relevance of the online course to the job of the learner, prior experience and knowledge are the major factors that affect the learners’ decisions to persist or to drop out. Therefore, in order to improve satisfaction as a mechanism of motivating the online learners, the learners should be given rewards such as praise, completion certificates and promotions. Furthermore, for achievement of the relevance, the course should be designed in a way that contains learning cases and materials that are related closely to the goals, experience and interests of the learners (Levy, 2006).
Park, J.-H., & Choi, H. J. (January 01, 2009). Factors Influencing Adult Learners’ Decision to Drop Out or Persist in Online Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 12, 4, 207-217.
Levy, Y. (January 01, 2006). Assessing Satisfaction and Academic Locus of Control of Dropout Students in online Learning Courses.
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