Skip to contentSkip to Main Site NavigationSkip to Site Left NavigationSkip to Site Utility NavigationSkip to Site SearchSkip to FooterDownload Adobe Reader
Teaching Online
Home » Faculty/Staff » Teaching Online » Retention


Here are some strategies to help online students succeed and reduce dropout rates.

  • The two biggest factors affecting dropout are student misconceptions and time management issues, so make sure to address these in your orientation or assign Quest for Online Success orientation.  Contact the Distance Education Coordinator to set it up. 
  • If you suspect many of the students in your class are not prepared, take a survey and give suggestions for "catch up" (pre-screen students if possible)
  • Studies show more (or longer) orientations increase retention - consider a 1-week orientation period
  • Make emails and feedback personal (studies show personal interaction is very important for student satisfaction) - be friendly, patient, encouraging, use humor
  • Check student progress and interaction weekly and then take action:
    • Use Canvas "Message Students Who" in Gradebook
    • If student is falling behind, send email (or call) asking "What is happening?  How can I help?"
    • The key is friendly, personal, and persistent encouragement
  • Provide a link to Cuyamaca's online Ask A Counselor
  • Frequent initial contact with the instructor can reduce drop out rate
  • Give early and frequent feedback to badly performing students stressing "areas for improvement," rather than what they did wrong
  • Have students notify you if they will not be logging into class for over a week
  • Make exceptions and show compassion and empathy for those students who truly have difficult circumstances or challenges (such as medical emergencies)
  • Although you should drop students who have not logged into your course for a while (or very sporadically), but be sure to email them first and ask for reasons for the inactivity
  • Call absent students by phone (this surprising, extra-personal contact can sometimes change minds and motivate)
  • Use frequent "practice quizzes" with zero point value
  • Studies show retention is better for those with a higher education level and greater expectations for getting a degree, so draw on those students to help other students within the class
  • For students having a difficult time with your online class, allow them to attend some lectures in your face-to-face class (if you teach both formats)
Last Updated: 08/23/2019
  • Grossmont
  • Cuyamaca
A Member of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District