Results - Students’ withdrawal
All of the surveyed students and interviewees positively reported their experiences with the online option. They firmly believed the online program was accessible and it helped them be successful in obtaining their GED. When probed, the interviewees indicated the online option may not be the best option for all students. Their responses explain reasons why the online GED program may not work for everyone. Student A said the online GED was ‘fun’ and went on to explain that she met a peer at the library who had tried the online GED and her peer never wanted to do an online program again because she needed someone to sit down and help her. Student B said, “Some people it wouldn’t work for. You have to be self-motivated and able to manage working on a computer.” Student C said, “It’s hard to do online because of the distractions. If you can set your mind and block out distractions and have self-control, then you can be successful. I personally liked the online better than attending class.” So although the majority of the students who completed surveys or were interviewed felt the online GED program was a very successful and worthwhile option, they recognized that background knowledge for using the computer and self-discipline were essential for success.
Students clearly described strengths of the online program, such as, “It was to the point and helpful,” and “simple.” Student D said, “It’s a good way if you’re able to learn on your own. You can work just on what you need.” Student E said, “If you have some computer knowledge, it’s a perfect program for review. The program encouraged me so much! I hope I can go to college online because I know I can do it!”
Teachers terminated students’ connection to the online GED program monthly because of inactivity or too little work. When asked about this, the teachers’ responses varied greatly: Two educators reported dropping 5% of the students each month, the third educator said 15% of the students were dropped each month and the fourth educator said 30% of enrolled students were dropped each month. These were estimates the teachers gave for all their online students, not those specific to the students who completed the surveys and interviews. According to the teachers, there were two main reasons for students dropping out: most students report a change in work schedule that does not permit sufficient online time, or family needs and challenges arise that prevent them from completing their hours. Rarely do students say the online program is too difficult or they dislike the program or independent learning. A few surveyed students reported their inability to continue to pay for Internet service. According to the teachers, only about 10% of the students who start the online program change to on-site courses. Usually these are the students who prefer in-class learning with teacher explanation/assistance or they struggle with the necessary discipline or lack an independent learning style.