BOOSTING STUDENT LIFE SATISFACTION AND ENGAGEMENT TO IMPROVE ONLINE STUDENT RETENTION

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In 2015, the Electronics Engineering degree programme at Aarhus University School of Engineering in
Herning decided to offer an online learning option concurrently with providing traditional classroom
instruction. Following this initiative, the student intake increased significantly, primarily because the
programme appealed to a completely new target audience. With the online opportunity, it was decided
to implement the ‘flipped classroom’ approach into both online and on-campus teaching, meaning that
online students were able to join the classroom teaching synchronously and asynchronously.
Moreover, Insights Discovery Personal Profiles were introduced, and based on their profiles, the
students were divided into online/on-campus teams with all colour energies represented in each team
(blue, red, green and yellow). In addition, the students’ practical skills were taken into account, making
sure that at least one person in the team had vocational training. To enable online students to
communicate with each other and the lecturers, an e-learning platform via Adobe Connect was
established. At semester start, the online students attended an introductory course, where they were
introduced to the learning platform and could meet their fellow students. However, despite these
initiatives, a high dropout rate of online students enrolled in the study programme in 2015 was
observed.
Personal conversations with the programme mentor have shown that one of the factors influencing the
online students’ decisions to drop out is their full-time job; having a full-time job while studying full time
is very time-consuming. Another reason for the student dropout is a feeling of disconnection with their
fellow students and the campus environment. Consequently, various strategies to motivate and retain
the students were implemented with the 2016 intake. Potential students were invited to a clarifying
conversation, where it was specified how many hours a week the student is expected to study. Here,
the issue of the work-family balance was also addressed. This ‘screening’ has certainly made it clear
to the students what is expected of them. In addition, we have seen a decrease in students with fulltime
jobs who, thus, are able to join the teaching synchronously, engaging them much more directly.
This, combined with a new strategy of forming mixed teams of online and on-campus students, has
boosted the student life satisfaction significantly and improved the online students’ interaction with oncampus
students. Today, online students take much more responsibility, as they also want the oncampus
students to be successful. Conversely, on-campus students now feel more responsible in that
they must ensure that the online students do not feel isolated, e.g. by providing them with information
and electronic devices that they need to complete a project at home or via the mobile kit ‘Lab-in-abox’.

Since September 2015, 11 out of 14 online students have dropped out the study programme, i.e. a
dropout rate of 79%. Compared to this, the dropout-rate of the online students enrolled in September
2016 with the implemented new strategy, has been reduced to 43% (10 out of 23).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies : EDULEARN17 Proceedings
Number of pages9
Place of publicationBarcelona, Spain
PublisherInternational Association of Technology, Education and Development (IATED)
Publication date2017
Pages5042-5050
ISBN (Electronic)978-84-697-3777-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventEDULEARN17: 9th annual International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies - Spain, Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 3 Jul 20175 Jul 2017
https://iated.org/edulearn/

Conference

ConferenceEDULEARN17
LocationSpain
Country/TerritorySpain
CityBarcelona
Period03/07/201705/07/2017
Internet address
SeriesEdulearn proceedings
Volume2017
ISSN2340-1125

Keywords

  • Online learning, flipped classroom, Insights Discovery, teamwork, student life satisfaction, mentoring, interaction, retention

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