online learning

5 Ways to Improve Online Student Retention

One of the most important aspects of any college or university’s success is online student retention. The idea that student retention is everyone’s role is the cornerstone to a successful online retention program. It isn’t just about what academic centers do; students, instructors, support networks, and advisers must all be involved.

The fundamental goal of a well-established online retention program is to keep students enrolled and pleased with the level of education they are receiving in an online setting. This is a difficult undertaking since there are a variety of reasons why a student may need or desire to withdraw from a program of study.

We’ll look at several essential strategies for increasing online student retention in this guide.

What is Online Student Retention?

Return rates from one year to the next are frequently used to gauge student retention. However, it’s possible that it’s more accurate to call it “student perseverance” or “student growth.” Students who quit or dropped out are not well represented in basic statistics. You don’t discover why they didn’t return or how far along they were on their way to completing their degree.

Online student retention, specifically, is the pursuit of keeping students enrolled in online classes. A majority of classes have been moved to online platforms in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, many students have struggled with this transition, resulting in many students dropping out of online classes or failing their online classes.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of poor online student retention. View your return rates in conjunction with other data points to construct a more comprehensive plan if you want to boost student retention.

5 Ways to Improve Online Student Retention

Students are increasingly taking online courses, yet retention rates remain high. You must discover techniques to keep students engaged throughout an online course to avoid them from dropping out. Student retention improves as the quality of the student experience is improved. Here are a few excellent practices to consider.

Intervene Early On

Identifying patterns in student engagement and performance is one thing; intervening with failing students is quite another.

After all, intervening online can be tough. Real-time analytics, on the other hand, allows universities to intervene with students who are on the verge of dropping out. Colleges are used to analyzing analytics to analyze what has happened over time, but for a student in the course right now, that method does not give much. To make a difference for a presently enrolled student, we must shift our approach to real-time learning analytics.

Instructors and advisers are in the best position to respond to student needs since they have more interaction with students than virtually anyone else at the school.

Some colleges, for example, use risk terms in students’ online discussion board posts to direct professors to students who need support the most. Instructors are alerted to phrases that indicate academic danger, such as “help!” “I’m stuck,” or “I’m lost,” and are encouraged to reply to the student within one school day. Many of those students now believe they have the support and resources they need to succeed as a result of the intervention.

Other institutions provide an optional mid-quarter quiz to students to assess their stress levels. Those with low-stress levels may get time management tools or study recommendations, whereas students with medium stress levels may be directed to peer mentorship or counseling programs. Within a few days of submitting the survey, students who indicated the greatest stress levels got a phone call from a faculty member, followed by personal assistance. Many of those students now believe they have the support and resources they need to succeed as a result of the intervention.

Offer Tech Support That Works

Students might fall behind in their online courses if they have trouble accessing course materials or completing examinations. This can lead to a decrease in student motivation and, ultimately, to their dropping out. Be it clear to students how they may contact the team in charge of the course or platform if they have technical problems, and make sure you reply immediately to all support requests. If you want to boost your online retention rate, make it such that no student needs to drop out of an online course because of technical difficulties.

Academic centers should use data to detect problems in the first place, in addition to tech assistance as a remedy. Identifying which students are most likely to drop out is an important aspect of decoding high online student turnover. Data analytics may assist you in constructing a picture of the students who are most likely to fail their courses. Data can also reveal when students are most likely to drop out of a class. Once you have this information, you can concentrate your efforts on fixing these troublesome sections of the course and allocating resources to students who are least likely to finish the entire learning program.

Always Motivate and Let Students Know They Are Cared For

It’s ideal to make helpful suggestions for development that are both inspiring and encouraging when assessing student assignments. It’s all too easy for attempts at comedy to fall flat or for words to be misread in the written word, so double-check your comments before submitting.

Make students feel like they’re a part of the program by emphasizing the importance of their contributions in class. One of the most important elements influencing retention is whether students feel like they belong to a wider group, which might influence whether they stay in school or leave out. When pupils return from being absent, let them know they were missed. This lets the student know how valuable they are to the class, how much their participation in the classroom was missed, and that you’re aware of their absence.

Make Sure Students Understand What They Are Getting Into

Students should know exactly what to expect in terms of workload before enrolling in an online course. Sometimes, students drop out of online courses because the workload is much higher than they expected. Students will be better equipped to manage their time if you tell them how many hours per week they can anticipate devoting to their study at the start of the course. This should assist to reduce overall attrition since only students who are confident in their ability to complete the course will sign up.

Invest in Online Student Retention Software

Online student retention software could make or break the future of online schooling. A major roadblock that students face with online learning is the software they use. Many platforms used by universities and colleges are not user-friendly and can complicate online learning even further, resulting in students dropping out of classes. By investing in top-quality software that is designed with the student in mind, online student retention could be significantly improved.

Which tip for improving online student retention do you plan to implement? Tell us in the comments.

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