Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Higher Education

First Advisor's Name

Erskine Dottin

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Benjamin Baez

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Hilary Landorf

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Isadore Newman

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Online Education, Accreditation, Standards, Ethnicity, Gender, Age, Predicting Student Success

Date of Defense



Prior to 2000, there were less than 1.6 million students enrolled in at least one online course. By fall 2010, student enrollment in online distance education showed a phenomenal 283% increase to 6.1 million. Two years later, this number had grown to 7.1 million. In light of this significant growth and skepticism about quality, there have been calls for greater oversight of this format of educational delivery. Accrediting bodies tasked with this oversight have developed guidelines and standards for online education.

There is a lack of empirical studies that examine the relationship between accrediting standards and student success. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the presence of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College (SACSCOC) standards for online education in online courses, (a) student support services and (b) curriculum and instruction, and student success.

An original 24-item survey with an overall reliability coefficient of .94 was administered to students (N=464) at Florida International University, enrolled in 24 university-wide undergraduate online courses during fall 2014, who rated the presence of these standards in their online courses. The general linear model was utilized to analyze the data. The results of the study indicated that the two standards, student support services and curriculum and instruction were both significantly and positively correlated with student success but with small R2 and strengths of association less than .35 and .20 respectively. Mixed results were produced from Chi-square tests for differences in student success between higher and lower rated online courses when controlling for various covariates such as discipline, gender, race/ethnicity, GPA, age, and number of online courses previously taken. A multiple linear regression analysis revealed that the curriculum and instruction standard was the only variable that accounted for a significant amount of unique variance in student success. Another regression test revealed that no significant interaction effect exists between the two SACSCOC standards and GPA in predicting student success.

The results of this study are useful for administrators, faculty, and researchers who are interested in accreditation standards for online education and how these standards relate to student success.





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