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Monitor Student Progress and Encourage Lagging Students

Module by: Larry Ragan. E-mail the author

Summary: This module provide strategies for monitoring students' progress in an online environment. This module is part of the Best Practices in Online Teaching Course created by Penn State University World Campus as a guide for faculty who are new to teaching in an online environment.

What to Do?

Figure 1: Lost, Photo by and used with Permission from Penny Mathews, Photo #576588, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/576588
Figure 1 (graphics1.jpg)

While recognizing different student learning styles, instructors monitor student progress, identify lagging students, and help them minimize their procrastination through appropriate monitoring and encouragement.

How to Do It?

  • Be aware that students who fall behind are in jeopardy of not completing the course within the same semester of enrollment. This may endanger student financial aid for the following semester, or student reimbursement of tuition if the student is receiving funds from a third party (such as an employer).
  • Many Course Management Systems have tools to track student progress in course activities (e.g. the WhoDunIt Agent in ANGEL allows an instructor to track students’ progress in course activities).
  • Contact students who haven’t logged in for over a week to inquire whether they’re experiencing technical difficulties or problems with course content, team communications, etc.
  • If students cannot participate due to technical problems, connect them immediately to get technical help.
  • Contact students who have not completed assignments by email or phone.
  • Send a weekly email summarizing course activities as a general reminder to the whole class near the end of the week.
  • Introduce a new week with an overview of upcoming events and deadlines. (See Example)
  • Include flexibility in grading if possible (e.g. Allow students to drop lowest grade; Give choices for when students can complete assignments (e.g. Pick 2 out of 5, etc.)
  • Differentiate lurking learners from lagging students.
  • For more information related to this section, please see 2.6 Feedback and Support module.

Example 1: Introducing a New Week

Email sent to class, PSY 451, Spring 06

Hi, 451'ers. I hope that you are all having a good week!

I just wanted to remind you that this week's case (based on the Hartwick Case on MLK's Letter from Birmingham Jail) is due on Sunday. It is an individual assignment, and so far only one individual has completed it.

Looking ahead to next week, your group will need to complete another movie case by 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 9. I suggest that you start determining which movie your group will watch/discuss so that everyone can view it and respond in time. Your movie choices include: Remember the Titans, Apollo 13, and Lord of the Flies.

Plus, keep progressing on your final group project. Be sure to get in touch with your interviewees and conduct your interviews as soon as possible!

Dr. L

Why Do It?

Although some students may do better in an online environment than in a face-to-face classroom, we should not expect every student to succeed in an online environment; therefore, instructors should recognize and work with those who are not successful in the online class (Palloff and Pratt, 2001).

Students seem to have more opportunities to procrastinate in online classes than in traditional ones; procrastination may affect students’ satisfaction with online courses but not for students in traditional lecture classes (Elvers, Polzella, & Graetz, 2003).

References:

Berge, Z.L. (1995). Facilitating Computer Conferencing: Recommendations from the Field. Educational Technology, 35(1), 22-30

Vonderwell, S. & Turner, S. (2005). Active learning and preservice teachers’ experiences in an online course: A case study. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 13(1), 65-84

Wilson, G., Stacey, K (2004). Online interaction impacts on learning: Teaching the teachers to teach online. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20(1), 33-48

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