Increasing Online Course Completion

I ran into this article on some research done at Stanford on online course completion rates.

Most interesting part:
A simple 8-minute writing exercise done at the beginning of the course that can increase course completion rates by 15-30% for students from individualistic cultures. The exercise asks students to list two positive outcomes of finishing the course, two obstacles, then two if-then statements for overcoming the obstacles. E.g.: “If I get too busy, I’ll say no to some things so I still have time to study.”

I wonder if this is worth implementing across the board in NSO courses. At the least, I’m going to add it to my courses starting with summer.

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This is good. I’ve been looking at some completion rates for NSO with David and have seen some work by the Evergreen group on increasing completion. I think this is the next focus for NSO course revision and targeted improvements. I have a few good ideas. The courses I’ve had a hand in building/revising have higher completion rates, so I think I might be onto something.

It appears that the researchers state the this simple tool could have a positive effect on students in a regular classroom as well. “The positive outcomes delivered to these learners are not confined to the online education space, said Kizilcec, and can be applied in numerous settings, including classroom education, health and business.” I think that it is worth trying considering the minimal amount of work or time that would be required.

This is a good point. The ideas come from cognitive psychology and should apply to pretty much any endeavor.

And yeah, 8 minutes is such a small investment of time that there is little risk of losing progress by not doing something else with that time.

If people are really interested in this I would suggest this study (requires logging into Google Apps account to view).

Long story short…

It’s about giving student feedback on written work:

Some students received this message with their other feedback on their writing:
“I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can
reach them.”

By contrast, the placebo control note stated, “I’m giving you these comments so that you’ll have feedback on your paper.” In all other respects, the notes were identical.

Guess which group submitted revisions at a much higher percentage?

Abstaining because I know the answer already. :slight_smile:

I should also mention that this study was focused specifically on students of color, though I think we’d see the same results with most students.

I may be entering in this discussion late, so forgive me, but what are NSO completion rates now?

I’m not sure of the exact numbers. I think it’s 70-80%? Jon F might know. @djvandenboom would definitely know.

It varies from course to course. The ones with lower rates are the ones we target for revision. That’s what I’ll be working on primarily for the next month as we get ready for summer courses. The first wave of revisions will be in place by Fall 2018. Mike is right that for some courses we are at around 80% or even higher (Some are much lower and will be replaced). We’re taking what we’ve learned from those courses and applying them to our others. We’ve learned a lot this year though our student information system and can say that the completion rates aren’t necessarily due to the teacher as we have multiple teachers teaching sections of our successful courses.

Overall, we are in line with some of the most successful online programs out there.

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