Fostering Retention in Online Higher Education: Students’ Perceptions of an Intervention Addressing their First-Year Experience

Marlon Xavier
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

Julio Meneses
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)


Dropout represents one of the greatest challenges faced by online higher education. This paper presents an institutional intervention aimed at fostering retention and success of first-year undergraduate students at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), an online and open University, through measures addressing learning design and academic support. Secondly, through analysing in-depth interviews with first-year students, the paper explores their perception of intervention measures and their possible advantages or risks. Results indicate that time-related factors represent the major issue for persistence and continuance. Intervention measures such as personalized course packages which prevent overlapping of submission deadlines; flexibility in continuous assessment; and personalized support and academic advising were valued highly by most students. Future retention interventions in open universities are also discussed.

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