Abstract—Literature indicates that low retention rates are
evident in online modules and programmes. However, a much
higher student retention rate than anticipated was observed in
two fully online programmes at two South African universities.
To explore this retention phenomena, a non-experimental
quantitative study was done. The study uses descriptive statistics
to identify trends and patterns in student retention and applies
non-parametric statistics to test the significance of the observed
patterns. Typically, students in a fully online carousel model
programme drop out after the first module, specifically in the
first two weeks of the module. After the third module, student
retention stabilises. Similar patterns are visible in the year
model, where students typically drop out within the first three
months of their first year. Dropout continues in the second year,
resulting in two distinct linear phases of dropout. However, in
year 3, approximately 50% of the retained students continued.
Findings reveal critical dropout periods. Further studies can be
conducted to determine the causes of dropout so that measures
can be implemented to improve student retention in higher
Index Terms—Dropout, higher education, online learning, South Africa, student retention
Kimera Moodley, Mari van Wyk, and Donald Tive are with the Directorate of Comprehensive Online Education Services, University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Izak van Zyl and Johannes Cronje are with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa.
*Correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org (K.M.)
Cite: Kimera Moodley*, Mari van Wyk, Donald Tive, Izak van Zyl, and Johannes Cronje, "Student Retention in Fully Online Programmes at Two South African Universities," International Journal of Information and Education Technology vol. 13, no. 9, pp. 1372-1382, 2023.Copyright © 2023 by the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).