Attrition in the Digital Age: Reminders from the Literature

Reed, K.; Wise, N.; Tynan, B. and Bossu, Carina (2013). Attrition in the Digital Age: Reminders from the Literature. In: Tynan, B.; Willems, J. and James, R. eds. Outlooks and Opportunities in Blended and Distance Learning. USA: IGI Global, pp. 279–293.



Distance education (learning and teaching by distance modes of information exchange) is often characterised by having higher attrition rates (often labelled as "drop-out" or "withdrawal") compared to traditional face-to-face (or "on-campus") education. It has been claimed that no area of research in distance education has received more attention; such is the concern surrounding attrition. This chapter suggests that a holistic understanding of the numerous, complex, and interlinked factors that may contribute to a learner choosing to discontinue their studies continues to elude researchers. Furthermore, attrition may not always be a negative outcome; for example, a learner may have achieved the desired skill set from their studies. In the current higher education climate it is imperative for universities to maintain student enrolments. Attrition directly impacts upon wasted expenditure and loss of revenue for an institution. Additionally, withdrawing from tertiary studies can have consequences for the distance learner. This chapter explores underlying concerns and identify key questions and gaps regarding attrition in distance education for the digital age.

Viewing alternatives


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions
No digital document available to download for this item

Item Actions