Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Richard T. Walls.


This research examined withdrawal and completion rates in courses at public community colleges in West Virginia during the Fall 2009 and Fall 2010 semesters. Online distance education has quickly gained popularity over the previous ten years, and the number of students enrolling in online education has increased at a higher rate than overall enrollment in higher education. Few studies have analyzed withdrawal and completion rates specifically in online courses. Why is student attrition so high? How does this vary from traditional face-toface courses? What can institutions do to prevent online students from withdrawing and not completing courses? This study performed a comparative analysis based on existing data for which the West Virginia Community and Technical College System (WVCTCS) institutions provide information for reporting each semester. Data that can identify the student was removed, and the remaining data compared to determine the types of courses that have the highest withdrawal and failure rates. A total of 148,939 records were analyzed from all students enrolled in community and technical college courses across the State of West Virginia during the Fall 2009 and Fall 2010 semesters. Traditional courses consisted of 86.1% of the courses, 2.0% were hybrid, and 11.9% were online. This study only looks at how many students are withdrawing and not passing online courses at West Virginia Community and Technical Colleges, it does not look into why these students withdraw at a higher rate than traditional courses. Further research is needed on the reasons why they withdraw and what can be done to prevent their departure.