What Do Unsuccessful Online Students Want Us to Know?
Over the past twelve years, Monroe Community College (MCC), in Rochester, NY, has administered three surveys to non-successful online students to ask about their perceptions of online learning and to learn about student perceived barriers in the online environment. For these surveys, non-successful students were defined as those students who received a grade of F or W in an MCC online course.
Typically, these particular students do not share their perceptions of online learning with the college because they rarely participate in end of the year student satisfaction surveys. Thus, their perceptions are often invisible and unknown to institutions. In the MCC surveys, students were asked to: share their perspectives on why they felt that were not successful in their online class; comment on their expectations for online classes; and share the advice that they would give to a student who was considering taking an online MCC class. The students’ responses to these questions were fairly consistent over the course of time that the surveys were conducted, 2000-2001, 2005-2006, and 2009-2010. The combined responses for the three surveys indicated that the number one reason why students felt that they were not successful in their online course was because they “got behind and couldn’t catch up.”
Although online student satisfaction surveys provide insights into the perceptions of online students, the voluntary respondents to these surveys are those students who typically did well in the course. A review of the results of the responses from unsuccessful online students broadens the scope of the voice of the students and brings to the forefront the perspectives of students who were not successful. These data can help to inform the types of student services support that unsuccessful online MCC students feel are needed.