Posts Tagged 'dissertation'

Dissertation progress – here is the abstract

After many months and hours of reading and writing and analyzing documents, articles, reports, studies and books, I am excited to say that my dissertation is moving towards completion.  My final defense is scheduled for April 9th and I hope I can have those in the online learning world who would like to, join me from a distance via Elluminate.   I’m still working out these details.

The title of my dissertation is:  Are at-risk students more successful in online charter schools in California?

Here is the abstract:

Nationally, the percentage of high school students who graduate within four years has remained between 65 and 70 percent since the late 1960s.  Despite various educational reforms, the number of students who are at-risk of dropping out of high school has remained constant, increased in some years and decreased in other years.  Two innovative educational movements developed in the 1990s may help to reduce the number of school dropouts: charter schools and online schools.  The first state charter school law was passed in Minnesota in 1991 and in California in 1992.  Since then, more than 4500 charter schools have developed across the U.S.  Among all states, California has the largest number of charter schools and the largest number of charter school students (20 percent of all students attending charter schools reside in California).  The number of students enrolled in online charter schools has increased by 40 percent each year for three years in California, and represents one percent of the total charter school enrollment.

This study compared students attending online charter schools with students attending traditional high schools in California to determine if at-risk students are more successful in online charter schools.  There were 10 online charter high schools (grades 9-12) chosen that had operated for more than two years.  A random sample of 10 traditional high schools were chosen to compare results based on the percentage of free and reduced lunch students in the online charter schools, an indicator of at-risk students.  Pearson’s chi-square was used to determine significance.  Analysis revealed that the number of students attending online charter schools increased yearly by more than 40 percent between 2006 and 2009 in California.  Further analysis revealed that the percentage of students who scored proficient or above on the California Standards English Language Arts test was similar in both online charter and traditional high schools, and the number of students who drop out of high school was greater in online charter schools than in traditional high schools.  Although chi-square results did show significance in sampling, there is not enough data to suggest that at-risk students are being more successful in online charter schools at this time.

Determining My Dissertation Topic

For the past two years I have studied various topics…all related to K-12 online learning.  Now, the time has come to truly design the study and, now, I am struggling to determine that topic.  I can hear the professors at CSU Fresno saying, “the only good dissertation is a done dissertation”  or “you don’t have to save the world.”

So, here is where I’m at.  I know that I want to do something with K-12 online learning.  Listed below are the possible questions I might study.

  • What are the characteristics that cause high school students to be successful in online courses? (Have found Roblyer ESPRI prediction model interesting)
  • Is there a difference in success of online high school students whether they take an online course part time or full time?
  • Do students of color achieve better in charter online schools than in comprehensive schools?
  • Do culturally responsive online schools result in greater student success? (Research by Geneva Gay)
  • Is there a significant difference between student achievement of high school students in charter online schools as compared with students in brick-and-mortar high schools?
  • Is there a relationship between students enrolled in online charter schools and student dropouts?  (Not sure how to find the drop outs to study…)

I would appreciate your thoughts…what most needs to be studied in the K-12 online school world?


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