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Title: What Makes a Successful Online Learner?: Community College Students’ Perceptions of Online Learning Challenges and Strategies
An extensive theoretical and empirical literature stresses the challenges of online learning, especially among students enrolled in open-access institutions who often struggle more due to job and family commitments and a lack of self-regulated learning skills. As online expansion continues in higher education, understanding the specific challenges students encounter in online coursework, and learning strategies that can help them cope with these challenges, can provide valuable insights to be widely shared. Using open-ended survey data collected from 365 students at a state community college system, this study examined students’ perceptions of challenges of online learning that may lead to undesirable learning outcomes and specific strategies they found effective in addressing these challenges. We combined structural topic modeling and human coding in analyzing student responses. Three sets of challenges—including insufficient time management skills, greater tendencies of multitasking and being distracted in an online learning environment, and ineffective interaction and frustrations with help-seeking—emerged from student responses. In response to these challenges, students reflected on ways to improve online learning experiences and outcomes, including improving time management skills, maintaining an organized and distraction-free study environment, proactively seeking help, and using study strategies to improve learning effectiveness.  more » « less
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Online Learning Research Center
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Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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