Online learning design that fosters student support, self‐regulation, and retention

Mercedes Fisher (Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, USA)
Derek E. Baird (Trabuco Canyon, California, USA)

Campus-Wide Information Systems

ISSN: 1065-0741

Publication date: 1 April 2005



Investigating the social structure in online courses helps in designing for and facilitating student support and retention. Aims to provide data showing how course design and use of social software technologies provided social and collaborative learning opportunities for online students.


A study of computer‐mediated groups that utilized social media technologies and a web‐based collaborative model in an online program. Participants were put into groups and observed as they constructed knowledge using both online dialogue (synchronous and asynchronous) and social media technologies as tools to support their learning.


The integration of web‐based learning communities and collaborative group assignments into the course design has a positive influence on student retention in online courses.

Research limitations/implications

The research was limited to the online student population at Pepperdine University, and did not include data or research from similar online programs at other universities. Future research should include data collected from students outside the USA to find out what role cultural mores, attitudes, and gender play.

Practical implications

Provides curriculum design strategies that foster community, utilize social/ participatory media, and support online student learning and retention through effective course design.


Current research on distance learning curriculum has focused on the instructor's perspective. It is felt that research from the student's perspective can also yield some valuable insights for online course design.



Fisher, M. and Baird, D. (2005), "Online learning design that fosters student support, self‐regulation, and retention", Campus-Wide Information Systems, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 88-107.

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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