Inquiry: The Journal of the Virginia Community Colleges

Author Bio(s)

Thomas Chatman is a First Year Success Coordinator at Tidewater Community College. Dave Dick is a Coordinator of Online Learning & Instructional Technology at Wytheville Community College. Paula Ford is a Dean at Northern Virginia Community College. Pamela Henry is a Grant Accountant at Germanna Community College. Kim Hobert is Director of Contingency Planning, Safety, and Security at the VCCS System Office. Miles Keller is a Policy and Planning Specialist at John Tyler Community College. Kevin Riley is a Research Analyst at Central Virginia Community College. Christina Tidwell is a Student Support Services Counselor and Adjunct Faculty at Rappahannock Community College. Roberta Wright is a Facilities Director at Patrick Henry Community College.


Over the last three years, 724,116 online courses were attempted within the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). From these attempts, 206,533 resulted in a grade of D or F or a withdrawal, accounting for 29% of all attempted online courses (Virginia Community College System, 2015). This does not account for the students who may have dropped the course early in the semester to avoid academic and/or financial consequences. Studies have shown that students who do not experience success in their courses drop out significantly more than their counterparts (Thayer, 1973). Additionally, these students experience delayed degree or certificate completions, higher program costs and student debt. It is for these reasons, that we must explore ways to increase student success in online courses and programs. By addressing accessibility to and student readiness for online education as well as applying best practices for distance learning, the VCCS can positively impact student success with online degree courses and programs.



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