Research-based Interventions for Online Student Retention


Student retention in online courses continues to be less than that of a traditional brick and mortar campus. Researchers tend to point to the fact that there is no simple solution to help students toward their degree completion or fulfill of their educational goals. Factors that contribute to student retention in the online classroom are student self-discipline, instructor engagement and response time and student support services. Of these factors being cited as reasons for leaving the University, what can be done that classroom instructors/the professor might have some control over? During this workshop, participants will be given small documents that contain reasons students leave universities. Participants will sort the items into those that in are in the control of the professor and those that are not. Blank pieces of paper will allow other reasons to be added. After the sorting, a list of proposed solutions will be shared by partners and groups. Sorting and resorting will provide brainstorming of ideas that are in the control of the classroom instructors. Students who enter a university from a background that results in low academic capital will have gaps that can prevent them from persevering and completing a degree. These students often face a disadvantage and without academic experience through interventions for success, the opportunity to advance is undermined especially in an online environment. Participants should leave this workshop with shared retention-promoting ideas that can be implemented immediately in their classrooms, whether face to face, blended, or exclusively online.


Online Learning, Online Teaching, Retention, Intervention, Higher Education, Nontraditional Students


Learning in Higher Education


Workshop Presentation


  • Efiong Akwaowo
    • Assistant Professor, Ashford University, United States United States
  • Kathleen Kelley
    • Assistant Professor, College of Education, Ashford University, United States California, United States
    • Kathleen Kelley has been in the field of education for over 25 years. She was a classroom teacher for many of those years, teaching all grades from K-12. She has been teaching online with Ashford University for 12 years. Her teaching focus has been in both K-12 and Early Childhood Education. She also taught and supervised student teachers for 10 years. Kathleen has a Master's in Education Leadership and holds a number of teaching credentials and licenses. She has completed the majority of her coursework for her Doctorate in Higher Education and Adult Learning. She has presented and many conferences focusing on online education; specifically critical thinking and professional development. In her spare time, Kathleen enjoys time with her husband and children in Texas. Her children keep her busy, with her youngest competing on the soccer field and her oldest a recent college grad, now navigating the working world. 
  • Debby Hailwood
    • Faculty, Division of General Education, Ashford University, United States United States
  • Dr. Jennifer Robinson
    • Ashford University
    • Jen Robinson, Ph.D. has been a PreK-20 ESL and regular education for more than 20 years. Most recently she has become interested in the levels of belonging and contribution felt by adjunct faculty. She hopes that by building a stronger community of practice or PLC with adjunct faculty that both students and faculty will have rewarding experiences in higher education.