Community colleges serve an important and pivotal role in society. Neighborhood community colleges attract local students and students who attend community colleges do so for reasons including convenience and cost savings of living near or at home, lower tuition, developmental education courses, vocational training, ESL courses for English Language Learners, and a myriad of student and college resources. Community college faculty and administration work hard to meet the needs of by providing vocational and university transfer programs.
This research study is about the proliferation of online learning and the community college’s struggle to offer online course and keep students enrolled. In an effort to keep up with new educational innovations such as learning online, community colleges offer and fill online courses. However, attrition in online courses is high. Educators continue to innovate and change in areas of course design and online teaching pedagogy, but online learning lacks the physical presence of teacher-student and student-to-student contact and connectedness to the class itself. This study investigates whether it is possible, and effective, for educators to include non-content related curriculum that tries to boost student connectedness to the class, reduce stress, and increase focus so students are more likely to stay enrolled or at least gain more self-efficacy.
I chose mindfulness and its myriad of benefits to incorporate into assignments to enhance the online learning experience and keep students enrolled and passing. This study used one class section of online ENG102 students in a small, urban community college. Within the online course students were introduced mindfulness through periodic opportunities to read about and participate in mindfulness activities.
Results indicate that students still withdrew or stopped participating in the course, even after just a couple weeks and with minimal opportunity to engage in the mindfulness exercises. Students who did stay enrolled and participated in the mindfulness exercises reported that mindfulness did relieve stress and increase focus in general and when approaching course work. Attrition remained high. The implications for online educators indicate that more than just mindfulness is needed to address the attrition problem in online courses.
Keywords: mindfulness, attrition, online learning