While institutions seek ways to retain their students, students seek to persist through their program. Some may feel that this is simply a subtle nuance, however, this nuance shifts our perspective of who is responsible for student persistence and the steps educators can take to help support students. Retention in Higher Education often refers to a metric used by institutions to measure the number of students re-enrolling year after year to complete their studies. The metric most typically focuses on how the institution impacts retention on the student body as a whole.
Conversely, student persistence refers to an individual measurement of each student, examining how students maintain their motivation, drive, and determination to complete a degree. Persistence examines the individual while retention assesses the student body.
While retention metrics are a valuable tool, focusing on the success of the individual student gives educators a clearer path for how they can support and encourage their students to persist on their learning journey. A student’s decision to continue is may be impacted by several factors—financial issues, health, childcare, and situation circumstances—but it is also impacted by each student’s motivation, satisfaction, and determination. Educators can impact many of the latter factors by designing courses aligned to program outcomes, providing workforce relevant applications of theories within the courses, and perhaps most importantly, encouraging self-efficacy, motivation, and determination. But how does one encourage self-efficacy, motivation, and determination in an asynchronous, expedited course? How does the instructor impact student persistence? What are the best ways to provide support?
With these questions in mind, Academic Partnerships created a three-part special edition webinar series to help faculty plan their facilitation, outreach, and feedback—three aspects of student persistence educators can impact every day and in each course.
Session one, The Art of Meaningful Connections with Online Students, focuses on how faculty can help their online adult learners persist in their accelerated, online program. Academic Services and Products have created a user-friendly course facilitation packet including a student success guide and student success worksheet accompanied with examples. The guide and worksheet help faculty create a customized, weekly facilitation plan based on the course and the faculty’s preferences. During the webinar, we help faculty identify student milestones and select the support strategies that best support their needs. We dig into persistence and demonstrate how each faculty can identify and support each student’s “meaningful why.” Additionally, we review course kick-off announcements and emails, outlining the key information to include in each. By the end of the session, faculty are armed with a plan to provide course-wide and one-on-one support to students.
In Session two, Identifying Student Individuality with Engagement Analytics, we focus on the student engagement analytics and how faculty can leverage them to better support their students throughout the course. We start by exploring student engagement and analytics and discuss how they can help drive your strategy to support student persistence. We examine how faculty can support each student’s barriers to persistence and provide information on key support offices and resources aligning with your students’ needs. Additionally, we provide valuable resources for reaching out to at-risk students including email templates and example check-in schedules.
In the third and final session of our special edition series, Good Grading! A Guide to Giving Great Feedback, we review the key components and importance of feedback, providing strategies to help alleviate grading stress while also improving the consistency in your feedback interactions. We begin by reviewing rubric descriptors and examine how specific quantifiers and qualifiers in the descriptors can be used as a jumping point for feedback. We review how to prepare and maintain a feedback library specific to each assignment and we finalize our facilitation plan by adding in faculty feedback opportunities. We discuss multimedia feedback options and consider how we can utilize student feedback, engagement analytics, and our facilitation plan to inform our course revisions.