Improving your Course Completion Rates

Before or at the beginning of a new semester, you may be building new or perhaps tweaking your online courses. The layout of your course is important to help your students successfully complete your course. This page provides information on how to design your course to improve course completion rates.

The information on this page is modified from a Faculty Focus post. To view the post in its entirety go to Ensuring Student Success in Online Courses.Will open new browser window or tab

Course Content and Layout

Many students drop out of online courses because they feel overwhelmed and sometimes frustrated with the amount of information presented to them and the way it is presented. Learners can experience “cognitive overload” if the information presented to them is not logically organized and the course design is not easy to follow.

  • Provide a simple and consistent layout and navigation for the course. Use the same layout for each module (for example, overview, objectives, readings, viewings, assignments etc.; differentiate between required and recommended reading), as too much variation could overwhelm students.
  • Explain and show the structure and layout of the course by making a “course tour” video.

Clearly Communicate Expectations

Many students report feeling lost and confused in online learning environments. Due to lack of face-to-face contact, sometimes students are unclear on the expectations or need reassurance that they understand the expectations.

  • Provide detailed and very explicit instructions about the course format, assignments, expectations, grading criteria, etc.
  • Provide rubrics and sample assignments

Prepare Students

  • Technical skills
  • Study skills
  • Workload management

Humanize the Course

Students report that one of the main reasons they drop out of online courses or programs is because they feel lonely and isolated.

  • Do ice-breaking activities, such as an introduce yourself discussion post
  • Provide a personal response to students