Metacognition and persistence in Web-based courses

Date of Completion

January 2003


Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Technology of




For many adult learners, the Internet has increasingly become the educational delivery system of choice for those who require the flexibility and autonomy to learn at their own pace and according to their own schedule. Numerous studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of web-based instruction as compared to traditional classroom instruction. While researchers generally report positive results with respect to learning outcomes, they also conclude that more research is needed to identify factors related to attrition and persistence in web-based courses. ^ To better understand the factors related to attrition and persistence in web-based courses, this study examined the relationship between metacognitive ability and other individual and environmental characteristics that differentiate persisters from non-persisters. Two research questions were developed to examine the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. Logistical regression analysis and thematic analysis of participant comments was applied to answer the research questions. Follow-up analyses were conducted to further clarify results. ^ The results of this study showed that self-regulation and self-efficacy were key factors related to learners' persistence in web-based courses. The results of the study also showed that a supportive learning environment that provides learners with feedback, the opportunity for social interaction, and instruction that scaffolds the development of self-regulation skills could improve a learners' likelihood of persistence. Overall, the results highlighted that while a learner's decision to persist or withdraw from a web-based course is personal one and is related to individual learner characteristics, educators can work to provide a learning environment that helps learners develop personal qualities that are likely to result in a decision that favors persistence over attrition. Theoretical and practical significance of the findings are also discussed. ^