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Friday, April 4, 2014

Progress Made in Online Retention Rates

Retention rates for online courses continue to be a concern for academic leaders. However, a New America Foundation study showed some progress has been made on that front. The research focused on six public research universities that have been able to use online learning to increase enrollment without sacrificing retention.

For instance, the University of Central Florida is using online technologies to grow demand for courses using a mix of online and face-to-face instruction during the semester. Meanwhile, student retention at Northern Arizona University has increased through competency-based courses that allow students to master concepts at a more personalized pace.

“The self-paced nature of competency-based programs allows students to take the time they need to truly learn a concept,” Fred Hurst, senior vice president for extended campuses at NAU, told eCampus News. “If it is a difficult one, they can spend more time on it until the concept is mastered, something that may not happen in a traditional classroom where the faculty member may move ahead quickly, not realizing that the student is falling behind.”

Purdue University is tracking its students through Signals, an online program that uses an algorithm to spot struggling students. The university found in two courses using Signals that students graduated at a 21.5% higher rate than students taking courses that didn’t use the data analytics program.

“Academic analytics can help shape the future of higher education, just as evolving technology will enable new approaches to teaching and learning,” Kimberly Arnold, educational assessment specialist for Purdue’s Teaching and Learning Technology group, said in the eCampus News article.

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