Well-designed courses are a cornerstone of high student retention. Clear learning objectives, an easy-to-navigate course interface, engaging instructional materials and integrated student support foster motivation and increase students’ likelihood to persist through challenges. Engaged learners are more likely to connect with their course material and recognize how the knowledge they’re gaining is applicable beyond the classroom. This leads to successful student outcomes, including higher retention rates. Here are 5 ways you can deliver courses that engage and retain more students:
1. Create courses that are user-friendly and flexible.
Well-organized courses with clear objectives, easily accessible materials, and intuitive navigation empower students to concentrate on academic content and facilitate self-paced learning. Individual course objectives should align with overall program objectives, making it easy for students to understand how the academic content contributes to their overall program outcomes and ultimate career goals.
Additionally, it's crucial to ensure courses maintain an appropriate workload and learning pace. Offering flexibility in terms of pace and schedule helps accommodate varying student needs, allowing learners to balance their coursework with other commitments.
2. Help students engage with course material, their instructor and each other.
Student engagement is a linchpin for higher retention rates. Courses should engage students in 3 ways:
- Student-to-academic engagement: Students are interested in and engaging with the academic content and course material. Incorporating a range of content formats (such as video and other multimedia, readings, quizzes, interactive exercises, and group discussions) helps maintain student interest.
- Student-to-student engagement: Students are interacting and engaging with one another through group projects, discussions, or peer-to-peer review. Facilitating interaction among students fosters a supportive learning community and creates a sense of participation and investment in the course.
- Student-to-instructor engagement: Students have access to and engagement with their instructor. Regular communication from instructors through video updates, live sessions and timely responses to queries establishes a sense of instructor presence and support.
3. Provide students support and meaningful feedback.
Along with engagement across the three areas highlighted above, students need integrated support and feedback to succeed in their course and program. Well-designed courses anticipate student questions and ensure the answers and support are built in. Practice activities should be designed to ensure student comprehension before a test. Providing students timely, constructive feedback on coursework and assessments helps them work through difficult material, cultivates a sense of progression in their learning and keeps them motivated.
It’s also vital to provide students easily accessible and responsive tech support, tutoring and counseling to navigate the challenges they may encounter.
4. Explore technology-driven customizations.
Personalized learning paths and adaptive learning can be pivotal in enhancing student retention rates by accommodating individual learning styles and needs. This ensures students progress at a pace comfortable to them and prevents disengagement or overwhelm. Students can also go deeper on topics they find challenging and advance more quickly through familiar material. This personalized approach not only bolsters comprehension but also instills confidence in learners, reducing the likelihood of dropout due to feelings of inadequacy or falling behind.
5. Leverage data to enhance student support and improve courses.
Data analytics are an important driver of enhanced student engagement and retention. Using data to monitor student progress and behavior indicators can help identify risk factors for lower engagement or dropout and trigger the appropriate outreach to ensure at-risk students receive the support they need. Data can also be used to identify areas for improvement in course design or delivery and continuously enrich the learning experience.
Improving or maintaining high student retention is an imperative for colleges and universities. Students who persist in their programs and graduate receive better value for tuition dollars spent and acquire the career skills they need. High retention also contributes to institutional reputation and financial sustainability. Well-designed courses that prioritize engagement and support play an essential role in steering students toward the finish line.
Everspring designs and builds engaging, easily scalable courses that retain more students. Send us a message to learn how we can help you enhance existing courses or build and launch new ones.