Three ways to help online students succeed

From eCampus New by Laura Devaney

New survey reveals what factors influence high- and low-performing online students

online-college[1]A recent survey of 28,000 students yielded three specific factors that could influence online academic performance, with many stakeholders saying online student success really depends on effective learning design.

The survey by Eduventures, Inc., a research and advisory firm dealing in higher education, involved mostly adult learners over the age of 25 who are enrolled in an online degree or certificate program.

In conducting the study, Eduventures researchers hoped to help institutions understand the various factors that contribute to high or low academic performance in an online learning environment.

Factors influencing high and low academic performance

The survey asked students to assess their academic performance and identify the factors they said contributed to that performance.

High-performing online students identified having clear course objectes and expectations at the beginning of their course or program, along with easy-to-use technology. Those factors emerged as more important success factors than faculty-peer interaction and tutoring services.

Course pace, unclear objectives, and difficult technology were among poor-performing online students’ most-identified factors, beyond personal distractions and lack of motivation.

“Online student success really comes down to how well an institution can focus on the basics of effective learning design,” said Brian Fleming, Eduventures’ Senior Analyst for Online Education research. “That’s why we are recommending that institutions launch a ‘back to basics’ campaign among key stakeholders involved in the design process.”

Those stakeholders could include faculty, instructional designers, program leaders, vendors, and students, Fleming said in a blog post [2] about the survey.

Based on the survey results and statistically valid samples, Eduventures issued three recommendatdions to help institutions focus on online student success.

1. Align online courses with objective design standards to improve performance

2. Launch a pre- and post-design quality assurance process to ensure objectives and expectations inform every aspect of the student experience

3. Optimize the use of a learning management system to enhance the student experience

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