Qualitative Insights into Faculty Use of Student Support Services with Online Students At Risk: Implications for Student Retention

Rosalie J. Russo-Gleicher, D.S.W. Borough of Manhattan Community College City University of New York (C.U.N.Y.)


This article provides qualitative insights into the ways that faculty can impact retention rates of online students. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted at random with 16 faculty who teach online courses at a community college in the Northeast. Faculty were asked to describe behaviors of online students that made them feel concerned, conversations with these students, and whether or not they referred these students to the college's student support services. Qualitative analysis using grounded theory methodology revealed that few faculty referred online students that they were concerned about to any of the student support services available at the college. Faculty who did not refer online students to student support services discussed a lack of knowledge about student support services, or did not believe in using these services. College administrators need to educate and encourage online faculty about using the wide variety of student support services that are available to community college students. Under-utilization of student support services can contribute to a low retention rate found in online courses.


Online Learning, Community college online instruction, Grounded theory, Online student support services

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