Working with Students

Lost Sheep: Reaching Out to the "One"

Did you ever consider the possibility that your greatest influence as in instructor may be with the lost sheep who are not participating in your class? Some students quit participating in an online class toward the middle or even the end of the semester if they are feeling overwhelmed and that they can't endure to the end. Some never get started.

As instructors, we can send a powerful message that we care for these students as we encourage them to return and finish the course.

So, how do we find these lost sheep?

Class Engagement Option

One way is using the new Class Engagement feature located under My Tools>Classlist in your course. This tool is especially useful for the first several weeks of a course in quickly identifying and reaching out to students who haven’t logged in or begun participating in course discussions. The short video below will walk you through with more detail.

Gradebook Option

In the first several weeks, it is important to establish classroom management expectations. Doing so helps your students understand better the course and your policies. They will turn in assignments more frequently and on time. Use the gradebook to find students who haven’t turned in assignments by the due date and send them a quick and encouraging reminder email for the first several weeks. The short video below will walk you through this process with more detail.

Late Adds

Know your dates. You’ll want to know the Add deadline date for each semester. Why? Well, if a student adds your class a week after it has begun, you’ll want to step in and provide support. This can include a brief communication, by phone, email, discussion board post or instant messenger, that outlines what they need to do to catch up. You’ll also want to release final grades for that student, since it won’t be released along with the others you did earlier. Finally, you’ll want to make sure to enroll them in any groups in your course, if your course does not automatically do group enrollment.

Drop Deadline Policy

Be aware of the Drop Policy. It is never your duty as an instructor to remove students from your course enrollment on your own. Students who may wish to drop from a class should be referred to the Pathway Support Center for Pathway students and the Online Support Center for BYU-Idaho students.

Know Your Resources

BYU-Idaho has been blessed with sufficient resources so that we do not have to search for our "Lost Sheep" alone.  We have some great assistance with the Pathway Support Center, the Online Support Center, and our Academic & Advising Support Centers.  In addition to technical assistance, you can also refer students to these resources for advising, counseling, and tutoring. If you are not sure where to turn for help, you can utilize these resources.

If a student decides to stop attending a class, knowing the Academic Deadlines as well as the guidelines for "F" and "UW" submission is helpful.   

If you notice that a student is starting to miss assignments or miss an entire week in class, it is important to contact him or her as soon as possible.  Many times, a student will respond positively to a teacher reaching out; students often just need some encouragement.

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  • One nice aspect is that you can email all of your A students at once, or all of your B students etc. All of them are bcc'd, so they don't feel like they are just on a list. I have had several instructors send out emails to groups of students and encourage them and offer help. They have had great responses from students. Several A students said that no one had ever reached out to them like that. It is quick/simple, but can mean a lot to students!

    • I do like the idea of reaching out to the A students who seem to get it with all the assignments. They are often able to help if someone asks. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • I have found utilizing the Class Engagement to be very useful.  It let's me know which students are participating and which ones haven't logged in for a while. 

    • Kathleen,

      Thank you for sharing. I love how Class Engagement is a way to get a quick glance at how your students are doing. It can be nice to just email them directly from there with a gentle reminder and encouragement.

  • I found that the Classlist is helpful to identify students that are not fully participating in the course work. Through emails I encourage them to stay current with the work.

    • Jerry,

      If emails don't work, do you have a backup approach you take when communicating with your students?

  • Great reminders and videos!  Thank you for sharing some quick tips with us. 

    • Glad to help. If you have any of your own ideas, I would love to know about them. :)

  • I use the class engagement tool all the time. It really enables me to track student progress and get a feel for who is kind of dropping off a little. Thanks also for the reminder about re-releasing final grades after the add deadline. I would have totally spaced it on that had you not reminded me here. Whew! 

    • Yeah, re-releasing final grades is a pain. We're hopeful that releasing final grades manually is something we won't have to do in the near future. 

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