Driving Performance with PMERG: A Simple Guide to Drive Achievement and Retention

Concurrent Session 9

Brief Abstract

As educators, we face an impossible task: scaling instruction while meeting individual learner needs. Can spurring achievement for students and educators be simplified? It’s possible, but only with the right guide! Introducing PMERG, a performance-driving guide that drives student success — and, most importantly, drives retention for students and for educators.


Susan Sobehrad has served students in public education for 30 years at all levels. She is a nationally-certified trainer for project-based learning, and an experienced instructional coach and project facilitator. Susan has a master's degree in science education with an emphasis in Earth and Environmental Science and is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational technology. She has presented at local, state, and national conferences on topics ranging from rubrics to rigor, scientific storytelling, virtual field trips, and a whole -teacher approach to curriculum design. Current research is focused on the intersection of creativity and the multimodal affordances of digital technologies.

Additional Authors

Dr. Ray Francis is a tenured professor, and member of the graduate faculty, in the Department of Teacher Education and Professional Development (TEPD) at Central Michigan University (CMU). Dr. Francis currently teaches courses in evaluation and measurement, research methods, and research capstone seminars at the MA level. In addition, Dr. Francis teaches doctoral level courses in the Doctorate in Educational Technology (DET) program. Dr. Francis’ current research interests include aspects of student motivation in blended and online learning, concept mapping, prior learning assessment, authentic assessment, and global experiences to build the professional knowledge base of undergraduate and graduate students. He is an ongoing advocate of Prior Learning Assessment process in higher education. In addition, Dr. Francis has served as a lead auditor with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC), the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and the Peer Review Corps of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Extended Abstract

As educators, we face a seemingly impossible task: scaling instruction to ensure student achievement, while at the same time meeting diverse learner needs. Throw in the unique challenges of online, hybrid, or blended teaching modalities, and the goal of closing the achievement gap continues to be out of reach. So the question is, how can we simplify the process of closing achievement gaps across diverse learner audiences in an environment that increasingly relies on online technologies? We believe a new framework is needed to help learners and instructors navigate the challenges of an ever more complex educational landscape. To meet the challenges that face higher education today requires a framework that not only recognizes the barriers to student and instructor engagement, but reimagines the connections between participation, motivation, and engagement that can lead to effective strategies for teaching and learning.


The Participation-Motivation-Engagement-Retention Guide (PMERG) suggests a research-based, performance-driven approach to teaching and learning that synthesizes these four elements of successful educational experiences into a teaching and learning model that facilitates student success. Regardless of level of education or diverse backgrounds, leveraging the components of PMERG has the potential to alleviate apathy and disengagement for students in order to promote retention — both for students and educators — in online and blended learning environments. Following the tenets of PMERG promotes effective technology integration as a means to improve student outcomes and create positive learning experiences. 


During this session, we will illustrate effective use of the PMERG model by exploring the model through the lenses of three personae: a first-generation college student, a student with a social-emotional learning deficit, and an instructor experiencing difficulties in meeting the challenges of an online or blended learning scenario. Session participants will be invited to engage with this model in real time as we work together to build out a fourth personae of the participants’ choosing. We’ll brainstorm how these four core components might be connected and tracked, and think through activities to drive participation, motivation, engagement, in order to improve student outcomes and increase student retention.  


After this session, all participants will be able to: 

  • Define the four core components of the PMERG model and explain how they are related to student and educator retention in online and blended learning environments

  • Recognize how participation, motivation, and engagement interact to drive achievement.

  • Learn how to use the PMERG model to streamline development of effective learning experiences for all students and educators.