Research Reveals Traits of Successful Online Students

written by Georgia Schumacher 25 April 2011

According to Reuters, the University of Missouri Columbia School of Health Professions has been able to determine some traits that successful online students tend to have. Clinical assistant professor Shawna Strickland performed a study regarding the demographics as well as personalities of individuals in online programs.

The study, titled "Understanding Successful Characteristics of Adult Learners," revealed that introverted, quiet individuals were more likely to be comfortable taking classes online. Whereas such individuals tend to be withdrawn in the traditional class setting, online provides a way for these folks to complete work on their own and do so anonymously.

Also cited are additional research findings from Southampton University, which demonstrates that of the two learning styles – active and passive – active learners are actually more successful because they retain more information, demonstrate better cognitive processes, have a longer attention span and will interact more with classmates and professors. Passive learners, however, may struggle with joining class discussions.

Online Education serves to work to the benefit of both types of learners, because the anonymous collaboration makes it easier for passive learners to engage with their professors and classmates. Strickland is quoted, saying: "Correlations between learning styles and success in distance education have shown to be inconclusive. However, one common theme reappears: the successful traits of a distance learner are similar to the successful traits of an adult learner in traditional educational settings."