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Linking Relationships to Retention | Origin: EL201

This is a general discussion forum for the following learning topic:

Online Communication: Engaging and Retaining Online Learners --> Linking Relationships to Retention

Post what you've learned about this topic and how you intend to apply it. Feel free to post questions and comments too.

The current generation / cohort of our students require a new approach to reach them. They lack self-motivation skills, face to face communication skills and an understanding of what the required effort is to reach an application level of learning/skills. For the most part, it is not their fault. Once we understand/view these students with this perspective, we can work towards new strategies to reach them and teach them. It will take more patience, effort, energy and heart than ever before.

What I have found with the current group of students is a huge amount of diversity in levels of learning knowledge. Part of it stems from the public education system that is not preparing them to learn as it once did. So when I approch my students I aways try to understand where they starting in their educational journey and move forward from there on a individual basis.  

I find that there are two groups, the "Haves" and the "Hane nots". Generally, the haves are strong in self efficacy, focus and motovation. they have parent support and empolment. The have nots generally, are not motovated, they never had to be. They are focused on the outside world more than what is in the class room. They may have parents in the home, I think that the parents want them to "just do something'and have given up. Trying to establish connections with these have nots is challenging. 

I agree that students need to feel they're part of a "community". Engagement and personal interaction are very important. Our students need to be challenged and as intructors we should model good behavior. For example, in a traditional setting rules and policies serve as great coaching tools. However, are they really effective if we don't even make an attempt to learn their name ? In general, rules without some type of relationship never works. "Ten years from now you may not remember what someone looked like, or even what they said, but you will remember how they made you feel." Nobody wants to feel like a number. Obviously, we're already challenged building rapport with our students given short three week periods. So, finding new innovative ways to engage students online is crucial. Students need to be engaged and mentored to take ownership of their personal success. I think one of the biggest contributing factors needed for a student to "buy in" to their success is to make them feel like they are where they should be during that space of time. Sure, we should hold them accountable but remember we all had to start somewhere. More than likely, a portion of our students will decide not to pursue this as a career but they can still find value in the process if they learn to set goals for themselves and learn some responsibility along the way. I think it's all about the approach whether  it be in the classroom or engaging students online. With that being said,I know it takes a huge amount of patience and some things are easier said than done.

I had a student who academically failed undercar – twice, but returned and managed to achieve a passing grade on her third attempt. During her first time in the course I noticed her poor grades and recommended she stay for some tutoring. She declined, and it wasn’t until the end of the course that the reality of her failing grades seemed to get her attention. Unfortunately it was too late to bring her grades up sufficiently to pass.

The very next course she was in my class again. I met with her at the end of the first day and suggested she move to the front of the room to avoid distractions, and again suggested tutoring – proactively this time. She did take my advice and move to the front row, but declined any extra help. I made it a point to stop at her desk every time the students were working on study guides to help her and make sure she had all the correct answers. She still wouldn’t make the effort to stay for tutoring, but she did see that I was making an effort to help her achieve her goals. Unfortunately she failed the second attempt with just a couple grade points higher than her first attempt. This time she stayed after class on the last day to talk with me. She cried, and told me she was thinking of dropping out because she just can’t do this. I told her I was sorry about her grade, but assured her she could do this. It was just going to take a little more work on her part if she wanted it, and again I assured her I would do everything I could to help.

The third time she started asking some questions. Finally! I was glad to see her more interested and actively participating. I made it a point to let her know that, and I still stopped by her desk to help her with study guides, even though she still wouldn’t stay after class. She struggled academically, even managing to fail the same test on six attempts, but there was finally improvement. At the end of the course she achieved a passing grade and had a huge smile. I told her I knew she could do this, and pointed out how giving up last course would have been a mistake.  I feel like I helped save her from dropping out. She thanked me, and I suggested that if she finds herself struggling in another course at some point (knowing very well it’s likely) to ask her instructor for help, and I assured her we all want to see her succeed. I’m doubting text based communication could achieve that kind of connection or convey the same encouragement, but I think using the video conferencing tools in GC may help us establish a similar connection with some of the students, provided we can get them to participate.

As a recent former student I got see first hand the completely different attitudes,behaviors and mindsets of this newer generation of students.Although there has always been an element of difficulty teaching ANY student through any/all generations the advent of smartphones (as well as different paternal guidance in some cases) has put a whole new set of issues to have to contend with as educators.If we embrace this, just as law enforcement has been trying to do in recent years of not being REACTIVE but rather PRO-ACTIVE,by establishing a curriculum aimed towards this newer age type of learning and type of student,retention should be possible.Instructors need to be vigilant and watch as closely as they can to see who is struggling and may need help.It's always hard to ask for help and sometimes you may not even think you need it, but being available and compassionate will strengthen the instrutor-student trust bond thus leading to more open and honest conversations and discussions.

Hands on in the public sector has been basically removed from their curriculum.  Therefore most have no self confidence in their abilities or potential abilities.  So so many are lacking BASIC mechanical skills and aptidude for doing essentially anything for themselves. Sadly MANY ride the coat tails of others work and still get full credit for the assignment without any effort on their part. The public system has failed them by not preparing them for life. Leaving many/most/some with the mindset they will have it given to them without having to put forth any effort. In turn, puts us in the situation of not only having to catch them up on basics but also instill or reassure their self confidence and motivation levels to get them to a point where they're actually equipped and prepared to succeed not only in their given field of choice, but in life in general.

Many of today's young students have not had the personal relationship that most previous generations took for granted in the home or even in many cases at their schools.  Most having been brought up in homes where both parents have to work outside the home or single parent situations that required most of their time was spent at child care facilities or home alone, they didn't get the personal attention and guidance that would be provided by a parent or family member. I feel that, because of that, it becomes more difficult for many of them to trust and connect with other people particularly those in a position of authority who is trying to convince them to take a different path than the one they have developed on their own. It takes time and effort to prove you are sincere and truly want the best for them. Sadly for some we just don't have enough time as it is more difficult to reach some than others. Show empathy not sympathy and show the big picture while laying out the details and the next small step towards a goal that is reachable. The important thing is, they have to know you are truly on their side. 

The current group of students is just like customer service in the work enviroment. You tell them what you will do and when you will do it and than you actually do it. Telling a student how it benefits them is crucial!!!

The diversity that we are challenged with can be quite complex at times . In three weeks we have very little time to figure out every student and there backrounds, however I strive to get a grasp of them in only a couple days and generally it seems to breakdown into different catergories. We have some students who have had previous learning and or upbrining values that are makiing the course easier to adapt to and some may be the total opposite and some in the middle of the road. I the first few days I try to understand where everybody is and focus more time with the students who may need more time then others but also make all the students feel equally welcome and let them know that we are always here to help.

Being able to effectively communicate and engage with students is adificutl task at times. Adding the impersonal touch of online learning will definatly take new skills and techniques to help motivate and communicate with students.

I beleive we must convince the student that we (as an institution and personnally as their instructor) care.  Therefore, making a connection with them on some level seems key whether on line or not.

Student retention is extremely important in my opinion. Without the students there would not be instructors. Thus, creating a meaningful professional relationship with the student is imperative, and will ensure that students will feel supported if needed. If you can recall your own school experiences as a student and can associate how faculty and administrators treated you, what were you best interactions? 


I have taught online for about 10 years now, however our courses are blended so having them in class greatly improves the communication challenges of online.  Building that relationship is so important to the student's success.  Now working with zoom where you can see the students is a huge tool in the success of online. 

Motivating online students is very hard. We have so many obstacles before us. Time management, family, work, school and dont forget the most important, a social life. The postitive, motivated and informative instructor has a better chance of retaining the audience or client.


For me, I have always learned better when the instructor enagaed and took the individual time to see how I was doing and helping me in the areas I was struglling with. As an instructor, the area I have struggled with the most is helping to motivate those that don't want to put the time in.

The transition from the classroom to Teams online learning has been interesting yet challenging.  One-on-one interaction is important in the classroom but critical with online learning.  It is too easy to let some students fall through the cracks. I have found the students are much more likely to stay engaged when I contact them individually about every two weeks.  A little time consuming with 24 students but well worth it.


i learned that retention is established through good relationships between the student and faculty.

Building strong working alliances and creating a positive campus climate will help in student retention.


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