Reaching out to students individually should be a practice that begins in Week 1 of your course. Intervening with at-risk students early will help them persist in your online course—and will improve your retention across a program.
The recommendations below assume that students are asked to complete a personal introduction or another kick-off activity in the first few days of the semester so that you can begin to track their progress. Interventions can be delivered as discussion board responses, emails, LMS messages, texts, or even phone calls! Don’t be afraid to lend a helping hand early in the course.
Students who perform at an exceptional level are logging into the course regularly, are submitting all of their weekly assignments, and are performing well on their submissions. Their personalized welcomes should contain at least the following:
- Address the student by their first and last name. Use the student’s preferred nickname if they have shared one with you and their peers.
- Use the student’s preferred pronouns
- Connect with them on a specific topic shared in their personal introduction. Ask questions about their interests, compliment a shared photo, or give them tips/tricks for navigating their course!
- Reshare your contact information (email, phone, office hours, etc.) so that they know your “door” is open to them
Students who perform at an adequate level are logging into the course semi-regularly, are submitting most of their weekly assignments, and are performing adequately on their submissions. Their personalized welcomes should contain the following in addition to the content listed above:
- Highlight their successes and areas of improvement in the week’s assignments so far. Consider the sandwich method: compliment → critique → compliment
- Emphasize course expectations for logins, late work/missing work, or academic success.
- Focus on a single area of improvement for the student: logging into the course regularly, submitting all of their weekly assignments, and/or performing well on their submissions.
Students who need improvement are not logging into the course regularly, are submitting less than 75% of their weekly assignments, and are scoring below average on their submissions. Their personalized welcomes should contain the following in addition to all content listed above:
- Name specific expectations for improvement for the following week. Example: “I noticed you have only logged into the course once this week. Our content will move quickly, so I’d like to see you log into the course at least five times next week.”
- Provide your availability to schedule a one-on-one with the student for early intervention.
- Ask pointedly if they are available for a quick phone call, synchronous meeting, or face-to-face appointment.
Students who need immediate intervention are not logging into the course regularly, are submitting less than 25% of their weekly assignments, and are scoring below average on their submissions. Their personalized welcomes should contain the following in addition to all content listed above:
- Request a synchronous meeting or phone call with the student. If possible, schedule a time on the student’s calendar.
- Provide information on contacting their academic advisor and/or link to information on student support services
- Outside of your welcome email to the student, contact the student’s Academic Advisor or the student support office on your campus to alert them to a student who requires immediate intervention.
Planned interventions should be based on performance monitoring and data-driven decision-making. Before your course launches, select performance milestones that you will track closely to determine whether or not a student is performing at an expected level for your course. Don’t forget to utilize the resources available at your institution like academic advisors!
For more strategies about tracking student progress, creating milestones, and intervening with students, check out our on-demand webinar Enhance Your Course Using Data & Analytics.