Dissertation topic narrowing part 2

I have now spoken with other researchers in the area of K-12 online learning.  Their advice has proven immeasureable!

I am now thinking my topic will deal with one of these aspects:

A) Is there a relationship between students who were or have dropped out of brick and mortar schools and have enrolled in an online school?  Are students who would have dropped out of a brick and mortar school finding success in an online school? (For this, I would need to identify the factors that would indicate a student had or was going to drop out of regular high school prior to enrolling in an online school.  Focus would be with teachers and students in online schools.  Problem would be getting through the university’s  “Institutional Review Board” since I would need to contact students or parents).

B) Are students more successful in online schools with more synchronous or asynchronous interactions?  (Some online schools have students online all at the same time or in the same room doing the online work, while others allow students to work at their own pace during a set period of time with minimal teacher interaction except what the student asks for.  Identifying this continuum of online school strategies may be helpful.  Defining student success may be problematic.  Would be primarily quantitative.)

Every one has told me to make sure I choose something I am passionate about.  I am passionate about the increasing drop out rate among students in high school and I think there is a connection between the use of online learning and students not dropping out of high school.   Student learning and student success is the key and successful student learning in online courses is key to the ongoing success of online schools.


6 Responses to “Dissertation topic narrowing part 2”

  1. 1 Doug Achterman June 1, 2009 at 1:19 pm


    I like the idea of a quantitative study for the dissertation that could lead to qualitative research down the road. What about looking at different activities performed in the online learning experience and seeing if there’s a connection between those activities and course grades? i.e., number of contributions to discussion threads, # of visits to course site, etc.

    All kinds of possibilities might arise from such a study; what kind of interactions seem to make a difference? What student interventions might help produce more substantive interactions? What instructional strategies or methodologies result in the most frequent “constructive” interactions? You might even be able to create a taxonomy of student interactions…

    Granted, course grades are problematic, but if you had access to some standard data across a wide variety of classes and instructors, you might come up with some useful generalizations that could lead to deeper research.

    Good luck!

    -Doug A

  2. 2 ryan June 2, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    if you do go a more quantitative route, you can use a third party like Statistics Solutions (.com) to help process the data. they have a lot of info on their site about the possibilities. just a thought. good luck!

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  1. 1 Rob’s Continuing Dissertation Journey « Virtual High School Meanderings Trackback on May 29, 2009 at 8:32 am
  2. 2 Final Stages of Rob’s Dissertation Topic Journey « Virtual High School Meanderings Trackback on June 14, 2009 at 8:00 pm

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