Apart but a part in adult distance study
Neighbors, Lois Sneade
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of the cohort on persistence in and withdrawal from an online cohort graduate certificate program. Three questions were explored: (1) reasons adult learners enroll in an online cohort graduate certificate program, (2) influence of the cohort to persistence in an online cohort graduate certificate program, and (3) factors that differentiate completers and non-completers. Semistructured interviews were conducted during the summer of 2003 with twenty-four respondents from the 2001 cohort representing teachers in an eighteen-month online cohort graduate certificate program at a large Southeastern university. The program includes five web-based courses, two teleconferences, one three-day academy, one on-site practicum course, and one optional four-day summer institute. Twenty-two interviews were conducted face-to-face, one interview was conducted via phone, and one interview was conducted via e-mail. Eighteen respondents completed the program while six respondents withdrew from the program for unique personal reasons or after early goal achievement. Results of this study show that the cohort had minimal influence on persistence and no influence on enrollment or withdrawal. Two factors—employment options and the convenience and flexibility of online learning—help explain why these adults chose to enroll in the online cohort graduate certificate program. Four factors—goal proximity, support, relevance of program content, and adaptation to online learning—help explain why the majority of these adults completed the program. Unique personal circumstances and early goal accomplishment differentiate non-completers and completers. These results lead to the following conclusions: (1) the cohort is not an essential factor in participants’ persistence in an online cohort graduate certificate program; persistence in an online cohort graduate certificate program is influenced more by goal proximity, relevance and applicability of program content, and adaptation to online learning; (2) adults are motivated to enroll an online cohort graduate certificate program by its relevance to their employment needs and the convenience and flexibility of its format; and (3) in an online cohort graduate certificate program, adults may decide to withdraw as a result of unique personal circumstances or early achievement of the goals that motivated them to enroll.