Students Report Challenges to Success in Online Learning

onlineresearch.pngThe Revealing Institutional Strengths and Challenges report on student success is a  student survey focuses on problems faced in college.

The survey effectively pinpoints more than 80 specific areas where colleges can act to improve student success, such as academic advising, course registration, financial aid, online classes, and tutoring.

Based on the RISC survey, and placing student success and retention as priority, the following table provides key insights that underscore the importance of self-directed learning and instructor presence.


Because 53% of students indicate difficulty in learning material on their own, 38% keeping up with the course, 27% using course technology, and 12% difficulty in taking exams, it is important to ensure that students have completed an effective orientation. New students to online learning will benefit from an orientation both to the uniqueness of distance education, but also how their instructor has organized their course.

Online and Hybrid Student Orientation

At GVSU, an online and hybrid orientation is currently being developed (expected to be deployed in spring 2019) in Blackboard that is focused on the following objectives:

  • Determine your readiness for online learning.
  • Distinguish between online, hybrid, and traditional courses at GVSU.
  • List the expectations required for online and hybrid courses.
  • Describe tips, identify personal attributes and skills for success in learning online.
  • Identify the technology requirements and proficiencies for learning online.
  • Navigate Blackboard and practice using the tools.
  • Recognize and gain access to online student support and resources.

In addition, much of this content is also available on GVSU’s “Are you ready for Online Learning?” web site.

Instructor Presence and Student Engagement

Because 44% of students indicate lack of interaction with faculty, and 25% lack of interaction with other students, key is instructor presence and student engagement in an online course.

GVSU’s has established a variety of tips and good practice to help ensure online presence.

In “Good Practice Teaching Standards“, faculty’s online presence is demonstrated through frequent and timely faculty-student communication and contact.

  • Welcome announcements are used to engage students. (e.g., Announcements)
  • Regular, timely course engagement, faculty feedback, and communication with students is demonstrated. (e.g., Announcements, Email, Discussion Board, Live Chat)
  • Discussion board participation by faculty and students is integrated. (e.g., Discussion Board)
  • Faculty is available to students electronically and in person. (e.g., Online Office Hours, Discussion Board, Live Chat, Email)
  • A positive online climate and course tone is maintained. (e.g., Discussion Board, Announcements)

We’re here to Help!

Looking for more information or tips for preparing students and creating instructor presence in your course? See: “Tips and Best Practice Handouts” on the IDeL website and connect with the IDeL group of instructional designers, or reach out to the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team.

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