Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Paul W. Thurston, PhD


E-learning has been defined as "the use of network technologies to create, foster, deliver, and facilitate learning, anytime and anywhere" (Linezine, 2000). E-learning is one of the fastest growing services on the Internet today with revenues between 6 billion and 7 billion dollars (Bizreport, 2003). This growth comes with a peculiar problem - many students never complete their e-learning courses. Although there is significant variation among institutions - with some reporting course-completion rates of more than 80 percent and others finding that fewer than 50 percent of distance-education students finish their course...course-completion rates are often 10 to 20 percentage points higher in traditional courses than in distance offerings" (Carr, 2000). There have been few credible studies investigating actual non-completion rates and factors that affect these dropout rates (O'Connor et al., 2003). This study seeks to apply Human-Computer Interaction theory, through use of usability inspection method called Heuristic Evaluation, to identify course design characteristics that may influence course completion rates. A research instrument was developed and applied to twenty (20 courses offered by the Air Force Institute of Technology's School of Systems and Logistics, and a Pearson Correlation was performed to identify any relationships between design factors and course completion rats. Analysis indicated some support for using the Heuristic Evaluation method. Practical and theoretical implications for this research are discussed.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number