Date of Award



© 2018 Kelly White

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

William Boozang

Second Advisor

Suzan Nelson


The purpose of this research was to discover if there is an association between student completion of an online delivered orientation (OLO) to online learning and the student success factors of end of course grades and course completion. This study was conducted because course completion rates in online courses are unacceptably low. Educational institution administration, state and federal agencies have all taken an interest in student completion and retention rates. Discovering ways to improve the situation is gaining support. There are many factors which may influence student grades and completion rates. This study focused on the factor of an online learning orientation (OLO). An ex-post facto study was conducted using chi-squared tests of independence on data spanning six semesters, starting in the fall 2014 and ending in the spring of 2017. Three components of the SmarterMeasure readiness assessment were used to divide the sample group into two categories; students ready to learn in an online environment coded as SM+ and students not yet ready to learn in an online environment coded as SM-.

After completing statistical tests on various combinations of ready to learn, completed orientation there appears to be no statistically relevant association between passing an OLO and either course grade or course completion rates. These results could be due to the high level of student competence with technology as measured by SmarterMeasure or it may be due to advances in modern learning management systems that allow students to learn and use them much more comfortable than in the past. While there may not be a statistically relevant association between OLO and grades or completion rates, the OLO serves many purposes. Many students do learn something while participating in an OLO. An OLO provides a method of just-in-time support for students throughout the semester. An OLO can be an avenue to build a community of practice for students who are entirely online. Institutions and students may not be best served by a mandatory OLO, but conditional OLO participation based on assessment scores such as the SmarterMeasure assessment should be considered. Optional participation and availability of an OLO throughout the semester may prove valuable. Integration of an OLO into a first-year experience course might also prove worthwhile.


Ed.D. Dissertation