Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This quantitative study examines the impact that selected academic and personal demographic characteristics had on the successful completion of online coursework during the Covid-19 pandemic. Focused on a high-research university in the Southeastern United States during the Fall of 2020, this research looked the potential influence that prior online learning experiences had on students’ abilities to transition to the online modality during a time of crisis.

Data for this study was retrieved from institutional sources and the sample consisted of 5,739 second-year students at the institution. After describing the sample and population, exploratory regressions were conducted to establish models for explaining variance in online GPA performance and percentage of online course completion during the Fall 2020 semester. The resulting models account for 40% of the earned online GPA and 19% of the variance in online course completion percentage.

In addition to the aforementioned models, the results of this study showed significant differences in online learning performance by race, with White students significantly outperforming students of color. This held for students with and without prior online learning experiences, which were found to have little impact on the performance of students in the online modality during a time of crisis. The results of the study also showed that academic discipline, while having a negligible relationship in most cases, did negatively impact the performance of some STEM students.

This ex-post facto research highlights the fact that crisis learning differs from traditional learning in more ways than originally thought. Overall, performance during the semester studied declined, indicating the impact of added stresses during a time of crisis. The study sheds light on opportunities for future research, including the prospect of investigating how students initially experiencing online learning during a time of crisis perform in subsequent online classes and the need to focus on how teacher preparation and course design may impact learner engagement in the online modality.



Committee Chair

Curry, Jennifer