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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Retention Strategies for New Undergraduate Students in a Blended Degree Program

Debra Gold (Argosy University, USA)
Norma Patterson (Argosy University, Phoenix, USA)
Session Information
July 8, 2014 - 4:30pm
Institutional Leadership and Strategy
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Research and Evaluation
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Plaza Court 3
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Information Session 3

Developed an extended introductory blended course to encourage learning of format, tools for success, and support systems.

Extended Abstract

When the university succeeded with graduate blended programs, four-year undergraduate degrees were developed in the same blended format. However, the retention rate for the undergraduates has been significantly lower using the same format, one class at a time, to reach graduation. Consequently, after a year of monitoring the patterns for program withdrawals and dismissals, and adding campus support for undergraduates with limited success, an additional approach implemented this semester shows promising results thus far. Instead of an introductory course to teach the format and tools for success to the new undergraduate, who then moves to the next course five weeks later, the course has now been transformed into a one-hour session prior to the each of the first three content courses during the first semester. Data throughout the first semester and re-enrollment into the next semester are being collected. Presenters (chief administrator and program chair/professor) will share data that include numbers of the course withdrawals, grades, amount of student support, i.e. tutoring, academic counseling, etc., as well as qualitative data from the new students in the form of focus groups and interviews with the academic counselors and tutors. Results thus far indicate positive affect from the students, instructor and Student Services. Retention at this point also appears to be higher than prior to implementation of this model. The ongoing support from the introductory course professor during the first three courses and the community building throughout the first semester may be key features to the undergraduate program implementation that were not needed in the graduate programs. Consequently, having one course at a slower pace (15 weeks) while quickly passing through the other 3 in the five-week format seems to provide the stability that new undergraduates desire. Retention into the next semester will provide the final results of this study and tell the university if this pilot should be continued. Any university with undergraduate programs in the blended format where courses are presented one at a time (or thinking about offering in this model) would benefit from the results of this project. Conclusions drawn from the study with recommendations based upon the results will be shared with the audience at the presentation. The research slides will be shared at the conference as well as a handout of best practices that have been implemented based upon the research. The audience will also be encouraged to share their successful experiences with new undergraduates in their blended programs for a shared learning experience.

Lead Presenter

Dr. Norma Patterson is the Associate Vice President for Academic Compliance for Argosy University and Dr. Debra Gold is the Program Chair, College of Arts and Sciences, Phoenix.