Monday, January 29, 2007

What We Can Do to Support Retention

Active Retention Practices in the First Two Weeks of the Course

We are now one week into Spring I, and many students have started the class, while some may be slow to enter and get going. Your part in reaching out and getting learners started successfully is an influential one.

We know that learners have been motivated by instructors who where enthusiastic about the learning experience, empathetic to the multiple roles adults juggle, and had the ability to clearly communicate content and process (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 1998).

Both literature and experienced faculty have shared strategies that express good will and realistic strategies for the learning success in a course:

-Consider phone calls to get people into the course.
-Let them know that their presences matters—you’re happy they are here and look forward to their participation because student success matters.
-Be clear and welcoming about ways to ask questions (i.e., anonymous discussions, how to set a call w/ you).
-Provide a guide for managing the course-load (Read first, work in discussions, do the written assignments over the weekend; create a schedule for expected hours per week).
-Give low-stake tasks so they can try out the tools they’ll have to use (like submitting files).
-Provide early feedback on assignments w/ specific remarks on how to improve if that is needed.
-Use email coaching for the first few weeks to tell the learner what he or she needs to do to get the points or correctly document sources.
-Let learners know what tutoring through Smarthinking is available for writing, math, or other content challenges. Tutoring assistance can be especially important in courses perceived as difficult.

The importance of such efforts is what attrition or failure means for both students and our institutions. Attrition or failure means that the student has spent COF dollars, his or her own dollars or financial aid, and but will NOT move forward with his or her educational goal(s). Granted, student efforts are also part of the equation, but helping students stay and succeed has implications for their return.

We appreciate all you do and find out that as we learn from each other, we add to the practices that can make a difference. Thanks for sharing your comments or questions related to this important subject.

All Best,


1 comment:

Alice said...

From Trina Reigle:

My retention plan is pretty simple, and probably something that most people are already doing. I have a student introduction section in discussions, and I lead off with my own introduction. While touching on geology a little bit, I try to keep it pretty general and chatty. I make sure to reply to everyone and I aim for a paragraph or so following up on what they've said about themselves. It works well as an icebreaker, and hopefully lures out the ones afraid to jump in by keeping the first discussion positive and energetic.


Trina Riegel