Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Role and Relationship of Hope, Optimism and Goal Setting in Achieving Academic Success: A Study of Students Enrolled in Online Accounting Courses

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Role and Relationship of Hope, Optimism and Goal Setting in Achieving Academic Success: A Study of Students Enrolled in Online Accounting Courses

Article excerpt


Educators express concern with regard to academic quality, student persistence, ability, and other issues in both traditional and online classes. Both students and higher education heavily rely on distance education as a means to deliver educational programs. In the past, research efforts included issues of student success and race, age, income and gender (Brunner, 1991; Fan & Chen, 1997; Hayes & Richardson, 1995; Sullivan, 2001). Research indicates that students' attitudes can affect their success in distance learning courses (Hogan, 1997; Hoy, Tarter & Hoy, 2006; Katz, 2002). Specifically, hope, optimism, and social support can attribute to student success (Barnum, et al,; 1998; Juntunen & Wettersten, 2006; Katz, 2002; Rogerson-Revell, 2007; Westburg & Martin, 2003). In addition, research findings indicate goals can be an important success factor among students enrolled in distance learning courses (Pekrun & Maier, 2006; Harackiewicz, et al, 2000).

Distance education also presents colleges and universities with new market opportunities and increased access to higher education for many students who otherwise might not consider enrolling in college. Distance education still provides new challenges for educators. Empire State University reports distance education as an excellent way for their non-traditional students (who have an average age of 36) to pursue a college education (Taking a, 2006). Empire States' Linzi Kemp suggests that online education requires different student retention strategies than on-campus student populations which tend to be traditional age (Taking a, 2006).

One potential concern questions whether or not distance education courses affect student retention rates. In one study of United Kingdom graduate students enrolled in master's courses, no significant difference in success or retention among university students could be noted (Knight 2007). Kung (2002) also indicated that distance learning could provide additional skills than what students could obtain in a more traditional classroom.

Kung (2002) noted that problems can exist with student motivation for choosing distance learning courses. The author's research revealed that course topic appeared to be the most significant factor for choosing a distance learning course and that course topic influenced students to enroll in the class as an elective or required class. Consequently, students may also be motivated by technology benefits instead of the educational benefit and instead may choose distance education coursework (particularly online Accounting) on that basis. Katz (2002) also reported that when students select online coursework on the basis of convenience and technology rather than a method of course delivery that might better suit their particular learning, student success might be compromised.

Studies indicate the role of hope in student success should not be overlooked (Bressler, 2006; Bryant & Cvengros, 2004). Even when allowing for student intelligence levels, Curry, et al (1999) and Curry, et al (1997) found that students with higher hope or optimism achieved higher levels of academic performance. Curry et al (1997), also found higher levels of hope to be a predictor of superior athletic performance. Barnum, et al (1998) reported students with high hope and optimism will also recover more quickly from major injuries and illnesses. Likewise, a study conducted by Chemers, Hu & Garcia (2001) also noted higher levels of optimism result in higher levels of academic performance.

Continued research of online educational programs could provide new findings for educators to develop more effective teaching and retention strategies which might improve student success (Carnevale & Olsen, 2003). Researchers indicate that depending upon class structure, student self esteem could be increased when enrolled in online courses (Vamosi, Pierce & Slotkin, 2004; Weiger, 1988). …

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