Teaching Online Title Beginner's Guide Heading with Picture of Ignition  

Retention

falling man

Most sources (both within our district and across the nation) see an online class dropout rate of 25-50%. Below are some possible remedies.

Reducing Dropout Rates:

  • The two biggest factors affecting dropout are student misconceptions and time management issues (see Misconceptions for solutions)
  • If you suspect many of the students in your class are not prepared, take a survey and give suggestions for "catch up" (prescreen students if possible)
  • Studies show more (or longer) orientations increase retention - consider a 1-week orientation period
  • Warn students to not take more than 2 online courses at the same time
  • Go over some of the misconceptions about online classes and talk about solutions
  • Provide a link to Cuyamaca's online Ask A Counselor
  • Frequent initial contact with the instructor can reduce drop out rate
  • Give early and frequent feedback to badly performing students stressing "areas for improvement," rather than what they did wrong
  • Have students notify you if they will not be logging into class for over a week
  • Make exceptions and show compassion and empathy for those students who truly have difficult circumstances or challenges (such as medical emergencies)
  • Make emails and feedback personal (studies show personal interaction is very important for student satisfaction) - be friendly, patient, encouraging, use humor
  • Use tracking statistics (Bb Dashboard) to check on individual student interaction and progress in class then take action:
    • Use Bb's Early Warning System (in Control Panel)
    • If student is falling behind, send email (or call) asking "What is happening?"
    • Include a general progress report to each student by email every 2-3 weeks
  • Although you should drop students who have not logged into your course for a while (or very sporadically), but be sure to email them first and ask for reasons for the inactivity
  • Call absent students by phone (this surprising, extra-personal contact can sometimes change minds and motivate)
  • Use frequent "practice quizzes" with zero point value
  • Studies show retention is better for those with a higher education level and greater expectations for getting a degree, so draw on those students to help other students within the class
  • For students having a difficult time with your online class, allow them to attend some lectures in your F2F class (if you teach both formats)

 

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Sidebar - In Focus

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Danene Soares on the importance of retention.