Work(shop)ing Toward Student Success: Research-based Strategies and Beneficial Collaborations to Yield Individualized Solutions

Concurrent Session 2 & 3 (combined)
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

This virtual workshop features students, faculty, and professional development experts who work with faculty to develop research-based, student success strategies to implement in their hybrid and online courses.  


Dr. Tamara Powell is the Director of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Office of Distance Education. She is an alumni of the OLC Institute for Emerging Leaders in Online Learning and a mentor for the OLC Online Teaching Certificate Program. She enjoys working with faculty as they translate their face-to-face teaching genius into an electronic experience.

Extended Abstract


The pandemic has taught us a lot. Putting classes online isn’t as easy as many people thought. Modality doesn’t make a course good—or bad. And good courses aren’t always successful courses in terms of satisfaction, retention, and completion—our typical descriptors of student success.


Our college, the Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Kennesaw State University (second largest university in Georgia, located metro Atlanta area) recently looked at the DFWI (D, Fail, Withdraw, Incomplete) rates of online courses offered pre-pandemic.  Surprisingly, it was determined that there was no significant difference in DFWI rates between classes where faculty had been trained to teach online using best practices versus online courses where faculty had not received training. Our administration theorized the lack of discernable difference may stem from that fact that our office, the RCHSS Office of Digital Education (ODE), delivers training focused on best practices in online and hybrid teaching and not specifically on student success.

More precisely, our Build a Web Course training program is peppered with research from well-known experts like Saundra McGuire, Flower Darby, Anya Kamenetz, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa which we couple with advice and successful strategies employed by our own faculty.  However, an informal survey of former workshop participants found that none of them remembered the workshop topics that addressed student success in online courses. They were laser focused on basics of learning how to build a course in our learning management system and general online course development guidelines rather than on the logistical details that are often so critical for student success.


We realized that we needed to support faculty with further training in research-based strategies for student success (defined here as strategies that improve learning outcomes and increase satisfaction in a course while increasing retention, progression, and completion of a course), but faculty are already overwhelmed. The last thing we want to do is add to their workload or send a message that the hard work they have already completed is not enough. At the same time, we are mindful that there are many reasons for high DFWI rates, and some of those reasons have to do with things outside of a faculty member’s control. We were also concerned that targeting faculty with high DFWI rates for training might suggest that such information is being used to punish specific faculty.


To address this need without overwhelming the faculty, our RCHSS ODE team (which includes a director, associate director, OER specialist, graduate student, and two undergraduate students) created six, research-based “Student Success Minutes” segments. Each asynchronously delivered segment lasted a maximum of 10 minutes. That time included a quiz or other activity designed to help participants recall the strategy and apply it in their own classes.  Topics included open educational resources, reflection assignments, scaffolding strategies, social media, time management, and timely feedback.  In the pilot project, underway now, we  incorporated these segments as separate, standalone pieces of the current professional development training on best practices on teaching online. At the end of the professional development training, we always administer a survey. This time, the survey will include questions regarding whether or not participants recall the student success information presented and whether they intend to use it (training transfer).

In part two of our project, we will redesign the “Student Success Minutes” segments into a standalone, asynchronous workshop for interested faculty. In addition, we will solicit volunteers to implement strategies in their courses and survey students regarding the perceived effectiveness of these innovations.  

Proposed Workshop

At OLC this year, our RCHSS ODE team would like to offer a virtual workshop on implementing these strategies into the online, hybrid, and tradition classroom and offer a certificate to any interested attendees. We would also like to collect their feedback on the project, as we work to build an efficient faculty development program that supports student success and faculty success while being mindful of faculty time and workload.

  • ​​​​What are the explicit participant learning outcomes for the workshop?
    • Participants will be able to identify six research-based strategies to increase student success (defined here as strategies that improve learning outcomes and increase satisfaction in a course while increasing retention, progression, and completion of  a course) in online, hybrid, and face to face courses.
    • Participants will be able to describe examples of how to implement these strategies in their own courses.
    • Participants will be able to describe student experiences of how these strategies impacted their own learning experiences.
    • Participants will be able to design their own strategy for student success in one or more of their courses.  
  • What types of collaboration or interactivity will occur during the workshop with the instructor-participants and within the participant-to-participant group themselves?​ Please outline time allotments for any presentation vs. interactivity (i.e., 15 minute presentation; 65 minute interactive workshop; 10 minute Q & A).
    • Welcome and introductions/goals/agenda (5 minutes)
    • Presentation on research-based strategies for student success (35 minutes)
      • Project and research overview (RCHSS ODE Director, 5 minutes)
      • Strategies: Social Media and Feedback (Student Assistant, 10 minutes)
      • Strategies: Reflection (Faculty, 5 minutes)
      • Strategies: Open Educational Resources (Faculty, 5 minutes)
      • Strategies: Time Management and Scaffolding (Student Assistant, 10 minutes)
    • Breakout Sessions: Three groups, each representing two strategies, will be available for participants to join. Participants go with the presenter of their choice into breakout sessions to brainstorm and plan how to implement one of these strategies into their courses. Each group will have a student member and a faculty member facilitating. At the end, each participant will have a plan to implement one of these strategies in his/her/their course.  (30 minutes)
    • Closing Session: The participants and facilitators will rejoin in a larger group to share reflections and any success stories that occurred during the breakout session (RCHSS ODE Team and faculty, 20 minutes)
    • Participants will be invited to complete the asynchronous workshop at their convenience for a certificate.
  • How will workshop participants be able to apply the effective practices shared in the workshop at their home institution?

After the breakout session, participants should have a shovel-ready, custom made plan to implement one of the strategies into a course they are teaching or planning to teach. In this way, they can share the strategies with their students and, if they find the work beneficial, they can share the strategies with colleagues.

  • Who do you envision as the primary audience types who would get the most out of this session and why do you believe they will benefit?

Faculty teaching in any modality who are interested in increasing student success/student retention and completion would benefit.

  • What activities, take-aways, and/or activities will your workshop participants engage in that make your workshop unique, innovative, and relevant to the OLC Accelerate 2021 themes and track you have selected?
    • While research into student success is not new, we believe that we are innovative in our team approach by working with students and faculty to ascertain what strategies 1) garner the best student response, and 2) dovetail with prevailing faculty teaching strategies
    • Participants will receive a wide variety of research-based strategies and responses to those strategies from students and faculty who have experienced them in various ways in various types of courses.
    • Participants will get a chance to brainstorm with students and experienced faculty as participants describe their own interests and goals and talk about what strategies appeal to them.
    • Participants will be supported in drafting a plan to implement that strategy into their own course or courses and share that plan with their breakout session.
  • What materials are required for the presenters, and what materials are required of those in attendance? This must be clearly outlined within the proposal submission.
    • Presenters are skilled at virtual workshops and only require the virtual conference platform and breakout rooms.
    • Those in attendance need paper or something to use to plan their strategy, such as an iPad or MS Word. They also might like to copy and paste the certificate opportunity somewhere for later reference.