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Teaching Online
Home » Faculty/Staff » Teaching Online » Retention


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)
Last Updated: 06/13/2018

In Focus

Stack of booksINTERVIEW>
Danene Soares on the importance of retention.
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  • Cuyamaca
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