With online education courses within public institutions realizing lower than average retention and success rates for students, current retention practices and models are falling woefully short of providing workable, viable answers to keeping students and helping them be successful without lowering academic standards. While a relationship between specific occupations and personality types have been noted, currently little research exists linking personality type with online student success and retention. This study sought to determine the relationship between the personality types of online students and their success and retention in online programs. In summer 2009, 149 students from Olympic College in Washington State participated in 2 surveys, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter II and a demographics detail survey. An ANOVA was conducted to determine if personality has an influence on student success in online courses. Chi-Square analysis was conducted on the 16 KTS personality types and retention states to determine if personality has an influence on higher retention rates in online courses and to determine if there was a difference in retention based on temperament elements. ANOVAs and t-tests were conducted, as appropriate, to determine if demographic factors' influence online student success. Chi-Squares were conducted on each of 4 factors in the study--gender, ethnicity, marital status, and household income--to determine if demographic factors influence student retention in online courses (participating in more than 1 online course over a 3-term period). And a t-test was conducted on age and number of children of child care age in the home. Personality was found to be an influencing factor in online student success with 4 temperaments more likely than all others to be successful based upon final course grade. Personality was also found to be an influencing factor in online student retention. Among the temperament elements, Feeling/Thinking was found to have an influencing effect on student success. While demographically online program marketers are being successful with attracting the nontraditional Guardian temperament as a student, the results of this study indicate that these students may not be the best suited for success in the online environments.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational technology; Characters and characteristics; Distance education

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Madjidi, Farzin;