Access to this thesis is limited to Boise State University students and employees or persons using Boise State University facilities.

Off-campus Boise State University users: To download Boise State University access-only theses/dissertations, please select the "Off-Campus Download" button and enter your Boise State username and password when prompted.

Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity

Dissertation - Boise State University Access Only

Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Educational Technology


Educational Technology

Major Advisor

Jui-Long Hung, Ph.D.


Dazhi Yang, Ph.D.


Jesus Trespalacios, Ph.D.


Retention and persistence rates in online courses are lower than that of conventional courses for adult learners. One of the major factors for students dropping out or persisting in an online course was student characteristics at the beginning of the course. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of the student characteristics Internet self-efficacy (ISE), self-directed learning readiness (SDLR), and online learning self-efficacy (OLSE) for adult learners. Specifically, the present study sought to determine how independent variables, SDLR (a learning factor in online courses) and ISE (a technological factor in online courses) together influence a dependent variable, OLSE. The study also investigated the individual contributions of ISE and SDLR on OLSE as well as the relationship between ISE and SDLR.

The research questions were answered through an online survey instrument comprised of questions from the Internet Self-Efficacy Scale (ISS), the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS), and the Online Learning Self-Efficacy Scale (OLSES). ISS is a Likert-type scale that assesses participants’ confidence with respect to use of the Internet to perform certain functions. SDLRS measures respondents’ level of self-directedness through a series of Likert-style questions. OLSES is a Likert-based assessment that measures learner control, the learner’s ability to learn with others in an Internet environment and the learners’ Internet skills with respect to learning. One hundred eighty-nine participants completed the instrument. The data was analyzed using Pearson correlations, a path analysis, and multiple regression analysis. The findings show that ISE and SDLR are significant contributors to OLSE in adult learners.

Based on the study’s findings, instructional designers of online courses and online learning educators can reduce attrition in online courses by intentionally designing courses to increase students’ ISE and SDLRS with the goal of increasing students’ OLSE. For existing courses, instructors can assess students’ ISE, SDLR, and OLSE at the beginning of a course to identify students who may be more likely to drop the course. The student scores can help the instructor to provide additional support to those students. In addition, adult students can identify weaknesses that could lead them to dropping an online course by measuring their ISE, SDLR and OLSE prior to taking the course. Once their weaknesses are identified, the students would be able to find resources to strengthen their ISE and SDLR.