Exploring Course Components as Predictors of Academic Success in an Online Psychology Course
Keywords:online, predictors, engagement, learning management system, academic outcomes
Online higher education is experiencing growth in enrolment and development which creates a need to continually evaluate the efficacy of online course delivery. Prior research reported that performance in online education is equivalent to traditional face-to-face delivery; however, minimal research exists to identify which elements of course design predict academic success. We aimed to identify which specific course components are predictors of (a) final course grade, (b) continuous assessment grade, and (c) major assessment grade in an online, undergraduate psychology course using data collated by the Learning Management System. We also addressed gaps in existing knowledge by exploring group differences within scores on significant predictors of course outcomes to determine whether these varied according to student characteristics. We found the number of times students visited the course site, viewed activities, and posted in activities significantly predicted students’ final course grade, continuous assessment grades, and major assessment grades. The total variance explained by the regression models, was however, relatively low and therefore there may be additional factors not considered in the present study that may predict grades. We also found non-traditional, female, domestic students, enrolled part-time and in an online degree accessed the course site, viewed activities, and posted in activities significantly more frequently than their counterparts. Universities offering online courses should provide students with regular activities and opportunities to participate in course content to promote online learning and academic success.
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