Role of Assessment Software in Student Retention and Success in Online Courses

Concurrent Session 2

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Brief Abstract

Although more students are enrolling for online courses, they are also dropping from these courses at a higher rate. This presentation will focus on some of the pre-course assessment tools, techniques and findings implemented in Auburn University at Montgomery online courses that has helped with student success and retention.

Presenters

Dr. Shanta Goswami Varma has over 20 years of experience in National and International Higher education in academic administration. Areas of expertise include: online teaching and learning, program development and implementation, marketing and outreach, faculty development (online learning), regulatory and accreditation requirements, curriculum and instruction, partnership building and recruitment and retention. Her research interests include e-learning, faculty development in online learning, gender roles, cultural disparity, leadership roles in higher education, and women in online learning. Dr. Varma currently serves as the Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Collaborative Partnership and Distance Education Initiatives at Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM). She also holds a concurrent appointment as an Associate Professor in the department of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology in the College of Education. Prior to AUM, she has held both administrative and academic positions at the Center for Distance Learning at Empire State College, University of Texas at Brownsville, and at The University of Houston - Clear Lake (UHCL).

Additional Authors

Dr. Shanta Goswami Varma has over 20 years of experience in National and International Higher education in academic administration. Areas of expertise include: online teaching and learning, program development and implementation, marketing and outreach, faculty development (online learning), regulatory and accreditation requirements, curriculum and instruction, partnership building and recruitment and retention. Her research interests include e-learning, faculty development in online learning, gender roles, cultural disparity, leadership roles in higher education, and women in online learning. Dr. Varma currently serves as the Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Collaborative Partnership and Distance Education Initiatives at Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM). She also holds a concurrent appointment as an Associate Professor in the department of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology in the College of Education. Prior to AUM, she has held both administrative and academic positions at the Center for Distance Learning at Empire State College, University of Texas at Brownsville, and at The University of Houston - Clear Lake (UHCL).

Extended Abstract

Extended Abstract: 

Although more students are enrolling for online courses, they are also dropping from these courses at a higher rate. Institutions interested in growing their online programs have grappled with this issue for a longtime. Studies in the past have related student success mostly to student satisfaction/expectations, teaching effectiveness/presence and pedagogy. However, it is time to understand how these studies have actually helped with increasing the retention rate in online courses. This presentation will focus on some of the pre-course assessment tools, techniques and findings implemented in Auburn University at Montgomery online courses that has helped with student success and retention.

Auburn University at Montgomery is growing its online programs and online course offerings and their major focus is on growing with quality, increase student retention, and being mindful of student needs. The idea is to provide equal opportunity to all learning styles and be inclusive. The institution has put in a lot of effort in faculty development training, assisting faculty with developing quality courses that follows quality matter standards, and other national best practices. The primary focus of this presentation is to share data collected from a pilot study conducted in fall 2018. This study will elaborate on the findings and share some strategies that Auburn University at Montgomery Office of Digital Learning has recently taken to implement and expand those findings in to some gateway online courses in fall 2019 to increase retention rate in those courses. The assessment strategy will be incorporated in all sections of English and History lower level courses. This experiment will impact 596 students.  Strategies will include ideas from both sides of the academic and student services house. Presentation will describe what tools are we using, and why does it make a difference, what did Auburn University Montgomery students think about the assessment tool, what are the reasons for implementing a pre-course assessment and how did it change the performance of the students in the class. 

Objectives:

a) Learn about evolution of distance education from a student success viewpoint.

b) Investigate some of the past studies on student success and student retention.

c) Current challenges of student retention in online courses in higher education.

d) What are some possible reasons of low retention rates in online courses? 

e) Evaluate some assessment software that are used currently by many institutions

f) Examine the software that Auburn University at Montgomery has piloted and share results of the implementation of the software.

 

References:

ACT. (2007). Institutional data file for 2007. Iowa City, IA: Author. Retrieved November 26, 2007, from http://www.act.org/path/policy/reports/retain.html 

Astin, A.W. (1991). Assessment for excellence: The philosophy and practice of assessment and evaluation in higher education. New York: Macmillan. 

Bean, J.P. (1990). Why students leave: Insights from research. In D. Hossler , J. P. Bean , & Associates (Eds.), The strategic management of college enrollments (pp. 170-185). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Derby, D.C., & Smith, T. (2004). An orientation course and community college retention. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 28, 763-773.

Dietz-Uhler, B., Fisher, A, & Han, A. (2007). Designing online courses to promote student retention. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 36, 105-112.

Dupin-Bryant, P.A. (2004). Pre-entry variables related to retention in online distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 18, 199-206.

Fleischauer, J.P. (1996). Assessing developmental reading courses: Do they have an impact? Research and Teaching in Developmental Education, 12(2), 17-24

Hossler, D. (2005, November). Managing student retention: Is the glass half-full, half-empty, or simply empty? Paper presented at the Strategic Enrollment Management Conference of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, Chicago.