Centering the Marginalized
During the pandemic, much of the focus of administrators and scholars has been on its impact on residential students and the sudden shift to online instruction. While justified, researchers have yet to focus on online students—who often represent marginalized communities in higher education—to ask whether they were impacted by factors related to the pandemic other than the modality shift. In this study, we examined how the first-year retention of online students was affected during the pandemic, and whether it differed from first-year residential students who transitioned online. We examined records of two student cohorts (Fall 2017 and Fall 2019) from a university to determine each cohort’s retention rate by modality. Holding other relevant factors constant, we found the COVID cohort of students were less likely to persist to the following Fall regardless of modality, although residential students were still much more likely to be retained overall. However, Black and Hispanic students were less likely to be retained across both modalities, and even Black residential students were more vulnerable to not returning than their White counterparts, suggesting that racial inequalities persist across learning modalities. We conclude by suggesting how one retention tool—financial aid—could be used to address the particular needs of online students to improve their retention.
Brown, Joshua Travis; Kush, Joseph M.; and Volk, Frederick A.
"Centering the Marginalized: The Impact of the Pandemic on Online Student Retention,"
Journal of Student Financial Aid: Vol. 51
, Article 3.
Available at: https://ir.library.louisville.edu/jsfa/vol51/iss1/3