Factors affecting successful student completion in a career oriented program.
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Research has been conducted over the past several decades to review conceptual models, assessment instruments and other methods to discover factors and find solutions to high rates of lack of completion in distance education programs. This thesis explores unusually high successful completion rates in a Career Practitioner Certificate Program operated by the Open Learning Agency in British Columbia. The research was conducted to investigate the following problem statement: What are student perceptions of the factors that contribute to successful completion of courses within the OLA Career Practitioner Certificate Program? Five themes were developed that formed a set of questions which served as discussions items during the participant interviews: alignment of the course objectives to career goals; course design and delivery features; personal characteristics and supports; support from instructors and effectiveness of administration systems and processes. Fourteen students were interviewed using in a qualitative study involving exploration and discussion of the five themes. These participants identified student personal characteristics and the most important success factor in their course completion(s). Course content and support from instructors were also identified as important factors. The study concluded that, when combined with program design and course content that had a direct relevance to the students’ career goals, personal characteristics and supports appeared to be the most substantive component of the high successful completion rates in this program.