Thursday, April 19, 2007


Hi Everyone-

Rhonda and I had an interesting conversation last night with Steve Rheinschmidt and Gretchen Bartelson of The Iowa Community College Consortium. They have begun looking seriously at the student data they have from their LMS (eCollege) and tying the data to retention and student success. Steve indicated the best early predictor of student success seems to be the amount of time a student spends in the LMS the first week of classes -- if the student spends more than 7 hours they will be successful; less than 7 hours they tend to need help.

Iowa has very generous drop add policies the first week of classes, so the student population in the classes is not particularly stable. That of course makes it hard to really begin to dig into the course material the first week, so they are concentrating on developing/promoting community building activities that grab the students and keep them in the class.

Steve also commented that students who use the discussion tool more than average tend to be successful students and that students who use them email tool more than average tend not to be successful. I bet that is about your experience also. :^)

We are planning to start looking at the data we can get from Vista and from Banner soon -- as soon as we have time.



Jonathan Sherrill said...

I have also seen some connection between discussion activity and overall success, but I wouldn't call it strong from my own experience. I would be very interested to see a more formal study. Watch out for two complicating factors:

1) Cause vs effect: Are students who use the discussions more likely to be active? Or are students who are active going to be more likely to use the discussions?

2) Definition of success: In CCCOnline math courses, we often assign points to discussion participation. Students who do well on the exams but fail to participate in the class discussions get a worse grade overall because by doing so, we define success partially as "participates in discussions".

Lisa Cheney-Steen said...

1) I agree completely. Causality is tricky. If time online is the real critical factor we hope regular discussion will get the learner into the course shell and thinking about the material.

2) I did clarify this with the Iowa folks -- they do not typically require discussions, so they shouldn't see this effect in their classes. We will in ours though.