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An Investigation of Advising Satisfaction of Traditional-Aged Community College Students Enrolled Exclusively in Online Courses Open Access

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Although enrollment in online community college courses continues to increase, there is evidence that many students are not completing their studies. Research on persistence indicates the importance of students feeling connected with their institution through faculty and staff which can be difficult when separated geographically. Using the Model of Online Community College Student Satisfaction and Continued Enrollment (MOCCSSE), a path model which includes components from both Tinto’s Theory of Student Departure and Kember’s Model of Dropout in Distance Education, this study explored traditional-aged community college students’ levels of satisfaction with their academic advisor to determine if they influence the students’ decision to continue enrolling online. Study participants included 346 traditional-aged community college students who enrolled exclusively in online courses for at least one semester in Maryland, Pennsylvania, or Virginia. Eligible students were identified by institutions and invited by email to participate in an electronic survey using SurveyMonkey. Results of this study were analyzed using path analysis to build a model linking students’ satisfaction with academic advising and online experience with online adaptability level and continued online enrollment. The interaction of satisfaction with online education experience and the advisor seems to indicate a positive effect on continued online enrollment. Continued online enrollment was also positively affected by online adaptability level, which was measured by student’s self-efficacy and perceived mastery of computer usage and time management. These findings suggest that while students who have the necessary skills to succeed in an online education environment are likely to continue enrolling online, their satisfaction with their advisor and their online education experience may also impact that decision. A major limitation was that the survey items that were thought to measure online satisfaction did not; instead student’s level of overall satisfaction was used to create a construct. Other limitations included removal of participants who did not communicate with their academic advisor, and the low percentage of students who check email regularly. Future research should investigate demographics of traditional-aged community college students further. Topics should include expanding diversification of online students so that demographics align with overall population, and comparing traditional-aged and non-traditional students with previous studies.

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