News & Events

Improving Participation, Success and Retention in Online Higher Education

Event Details
Executive Briefing Centre, Level 2, Building 100, Curtin University Bentley campus
16 February 2017 4:33 am

Presented by Dr Cathy Stone
2016 Equity Fellow, the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education

Dr Cathy Stone, from the University of Newcastle, is a 2016 Equity Fellow and a 2017 Visiting Research Fellow with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. Cathy has had many years’ experience in developing and managing strategies to improve student success and retention in higher education, with her research and publications focusing particularly on the experiences of mature-age and first-in-family students. Cathy’s work with Open Universities Australia between 2011-2014 developed her interest in researching the online student experience and ways in which to improve outcomes for diverse cohorts of online students. Further details about Cathy’s work can be found here.

Presentation Abstract

Online learning has become a well-recognised part of the broader landscape of higher education. It is also proving to have a critical place in widening access and equity within this landscape. Increasing numbers of students from backgrounds historically under-represented at university are taking the opportunity to begin undergraduate study online, including through open-entry and alternative-entry pathways.  However, retention in online undergraduate programs has been shown to be at least 20% lower than in face-to-face programs (Greenland & Moore, 2014; Moody, 2004), with an Australian Government Department of Education and Training report (2014) finding that only 44.4% of fully external (online) students, compared with a rate of 76.6% for face-to-face students, completed their undergraduate degrees over an 8-year period.

This presentation provides an overview of a national project now in its final stages, investigating the effectiveness of practices, supports and retention strategies in online learning at Australian universities and at the Open University UK. It discusses the background to this project, its findings and outcomes. Together with research evidence from the international literature, the project is delivering a set of national guidelines for Australian institutions for improving the participation, retention and academic success of students in online education.

This event is free to attend. Please RSVP via email to by Wednesday 15 February 2017 to secure your place.

Read Cathy’s final report and National Guidelines for Improving Student Outcomes in Online Learning here.

Posted 9 February 2017