Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Michael F. DiPaolo


Distance learning has experienced a noteworthy increase in both the number of institutions offering alternatives to traditional classroom instruction, and the number of students participating in the various distant modalities. Accompanying the increase of students utilizing distance learning is the subsequent increase in students leaving their studies before completion. These two opposing increases have elevated the need to address retention in distance learning and specifically, online distance learning. This study utilizes the results of a Transfer Student Survey administered to criminal justice and nursing online students between 2006 and 2008. Survey results were used to determine if specific traits of persisters and non-persisters could be identified, in an effort to shine light on potential services that could be utilized to reverse attrition.;This quasi-qualitative study of online distance learners revealed some characteristic differences between persisters and non-persisters as well as between the majors of study. Outcomes of the survey were subdivided by nursing persisters and non-persisters, criminal justice persisters and non-persisters, and aggregate persisters and non-persisters. This data was further scrutinized by frequency of response as well as by mean and median scores. From that point, differences that might not have been evident through quantitative review were able to be brought to the forefront. Consequential conclusions were then utilized to provide recommendations to the institution regarding services that could be beneficial to overcome areas of deficiency with the ultimate goal of improving retention among distance learners. Additionally, suggestions were made pertaining to the challenges experienced by the limitations of the Transfer Student Survey.;Further study of distance learners, particularly in varying majors, is needed to ascertain whether there is a connection between field of study and attrition. Furthermore, results of this study alluded to time constraints and lack of priority being placed on studies as potential causes of departure. Additional research of distance learners should be done that supports or disputes these findings.



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