Student Retention – a Non Linear Early-Start Approach

In the 2012 and 2013 academic year, instructor Steve Holland piloted an early start option for his composition I courses taught in the fall and spring. Students were allowed to start the course up to 10 weeks ahead of the official date. The objectives included providing students an opportunity to learn the online tools, purchase their textbook early, communicate with classmates, and complete the first essay assignment. As the deadline approached students moved away from a linear approach to a branch design as they were given the flexibility to complete assignments at their own pace. Thus, about a third of the students completed the course four to five weeks early. The extended time-frame allowed the instructor to connect the student to campus counseling and activities. Thus, about a third of the students completed the course four to five weeks early. A few faster than that.

Steve Holland will present the orientation unit and the essay structure overview. Beth Richter, Associate VP Retention Solutions at Noel-Levitz, will present a background on the use of the College Student Inventory. Dave Carson, counselor at Muscatine Community College, will discuss student counseling. All leading to improved student retention.


Steve Holland
Online Instructor, Instructional Designer
The University of Iowa

Beth J. Richter
Associate Vice President
Retention Solutions at Noel-Levitz

 David Carson
Transition Advisor/Adjunct Faculty
Muscatine Community College

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