School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Margaret E Ackerman


Christian Institution, Expectations, Student Attrition, Student Importance, Student Retention, Student Satisfaction


Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Higher Education


The study of retention is important to the institution, to assist in ensuring financial stability, and to the student, to provide an environment supportive of student needs for success. The purpose of this correlational study was to examine the relationship between the subscales of the Priorities Survey of Online Learners (PSOL) and the enrollment decision of adult, online students at a Christian university in the southeast United States. This quantitative, non-experimental, predictive study used a correlational research design and a survey strategy of inquiry. The participants for the study were drawn from archival data consisting of 5,221 undergraduate and 3,799 graduate students enrolled in online classes in the fall of 2009 and the fall of 2014. A binary logistic regression was used to analyze the data to examine if a statistically significant and meaningful connection existed. The findings of this study indicate that there are select educational experiences that do have an impact on retention for online adult learners. For 2009 undergraduate students, the expectation gap of their perceptions of the institution itself had a statistically significant impact on their retention; however, for 2014 undergraduates and 2009 and 2014 graduate students there was no significant predictive relationship between the expectation gap on the survey scales and student retention. The data has shown that the needs of graduate students and undergraduate students is different, and the needs of one class of undergraduate students is not necessarily the same as those of a different class. It is suggested that future research should be focused on more specific subpopulations, and it should also look at the homogeneity of the specific predictor variables in the chosen survey within the context of the institution.