Date of Award

Spring 4-21-2023

Document Type

Dissertation (799 registration)

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Ximena P. Suarez-Sousa, Ph.D.


online education, perceived quality, student retention, nontraditional college student, diverse college student


Online learning for undergraduate college students has significantly grown in demand and allows for more diverse and nontraditional students (e.g., 24 years old or older, attend part-time, work fulltime, have dependents) to pursue a college education. Although research studies indicate that online education is just as effective and robust as traditional, face-to-face delivery, students in online courses have lower retention rates (Bawa, 2016). Understanding the students’ perceived quality of online programming, along with demographic variables, will provide insight to understand retention of undergraduate students within online programs. This post-positivists, correlational research study examined two research questions including the relationship between perceived quality of online instruction to perceived estimated retention of nontraditional, undergraduate online college students and the role demographic factors play in online student retention. Through a convenience sample using a Qualtrics survey, 163 students in the Professional Management Department at a small, midwestern university completed a four-part questionnaire consisting of demographic questions, SLS-OLE, API, and open-ended questions. Both descriptive statistics and nonparametric tests were used to find the relationships. Participants indicated overall high satisfaction (76.4%) and high intention of retention (96.9%). The results using Spearman rank order correlation indicated that there was no correlation between overall student satisfaction and estimated retention. Although overall student satisfaction could not predict students’ intention to persist, it does provide that the elements creating high levels of student satisfaction also contributed to the decision of intended program completion. Implications for practice include faculty getting to know their audience, provide a social presence within the online courses, and keep online learning management course design similar among degree program courses.



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