Strategies to Improve Online Student Retention and Success

Strategies to Improve Online Student Retention and Success

May 20 - 22, 2019 | San Diego, CA



Learn how to retain and prepare online students for success.

Online student retention and success have become critical amidst recent declines in online program enrollment across many institutions. Join your colleagues and our expert instructors—from public, private, and community colleges—in San Diego to discuss practical strategies for online student retention. This is the only conference of its kind that will allow you to:

  • Take a holistic approach to the issue of online student retention that combines data and decision-making with student support and instructional perspectives,
  • Learn from a multiplicity of proven approaches to online student success from different types of institutions, and
  • Walk away with a draft of a plan that you and your colleagues can use to increase online student success at your institution.

Examples Rooted in Practice, Not Theory. Leave with a Plan.

To help you apply the concepts that will be learned at this conference to your own context, you will be given plenty of hands-on working time and will take away a plan that you can use to increase online student success at your own institution.

Bring Your Cross-Functional Team

If you want to increase your online students’ academic success and retention rates, learn support strategies, or reinforce what you know, this program is for you. Institutional teams consisting of online program managers, academic advisors, faculty, student services personnel, and retention and enrollment staff will benefit from this conference.

Save over 15% when you register three or more colleagues.

“This training gave me so many opportunities to change my program and constantly assess data for student success.”

- Dani Carico, VETA DEC Online Coordinator, Windward Community College

“This program was incredibly valuable. The sessions provided insight into our current and future online retention initiatives and how they can be improved upon.”

- Dr. Nicole Scott, Associate Vice President of Student Success, Indiana Tech

“The conference offered by Academic Impressions was a valuable experience. We were able to work on current projects, plan for the future and connect with experts and colleagues.”

- Katie Dawson, Interim Director of Online Programs, University of Louisiana at Monroe

“This conference got straight to addressing challenges around student retention with concrete examples and opportunities to develop a plan for your own institutions.”

- Jules Allen, Senior Director of Learning Innovations, Georgia State University

“Whether a beginner in online learning or a pro, this conference has something for everyone. I can't wait to take back all the nuggets and apply them.”

- Patricia Parma, District Director, Alamo Colleges


Your registration for the event includes full access to all conference sessions and materials, the networking reception on Monday, breakfast and lunch on Tuesday, breakfast on Wednesday, as well as refreshments and snacks throughout the conference.

Day 1 | May 20, 2019

Connecting Data to Programs

12:00 to 6:15 p.m.


Welcome and Introductions



Online Student Retention: Broader Landscape

This opening hour will set the stage for our understanding of online student retention and the various components we will explore throughout the conference. We will take a look at national data and trends in discuss how these trends are playing out on our campuses.



Data and Decision-Making

We’ll begin by focusing on retention data: which specific data points you should be examining, how you can identify patterns in your data to discern persistence and retention challenges, and how you can effectively analyze your data to make informed decisions. What programs or services should be piloted or tested based on what your data is telling you? How can you move from being predictive to prescriptive with your data capabilities? Our instructor will provide numerous examples from his own institution, and we will engage in group discussion around these topics.



Beginning Your Plan: Working Time

This block of working time will center around the baseline retention data collection, tracking, and analysis that you need to be doing with regards to your online student cohorts. You will be given time to work through a series of worksheets at your tables, or in your teams, that will help you take stock of which data points you already have and actively track, which you still need, and will help you identify gaps or challenge areas. Conference instructors will be on hand for individualized coaching and consultation as needed.



Networking Reception


Day 2 | May 21, 2019

Enhancing the Learning Experience

8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.


Implementing and Managing Successful Online Student Orientations

Creating a purposeful orientation experience that is specifically geared toward online students can go a long way to promote retention on the front end. Our second day together will open with an in-depth case study of one institution’s creative approach to their online student orientation. Best-practice strategies pertaining to orientation format, implementation, topics to include, and delivery will be addressed. You will also be given time to share your current strategies in this area with the group at large.



Best Practices for Course Design in the Online Environment

Course design is a critical component of retention in the online learning space. A quality course should be designed to be straightforward and navigable for students and include ample opportunity for student-to-student interaction. This session will explore the connection between course design and retention as well as provide best practices for designing an effective online course.



Online Faculty Training: Structure, Content, and Delivery

This session will feature a focused conversation on best-practice techniques for training programs for online faculty that will answer the questions:

  • How can I mitigate faculty resistance to online teaching?
  • How are other institutions training faculty to teach effectively online?
  • What does the format of those training programs look like, and which aspects of effective online teaching are they most emphasizing?

You will hear a presentation from one institution that has implemented an exemplary faculty training program and will also be given time to identify your own strengths and opportunities for improvement at your institution



Continuing Your Plan: Working Time

Here, at the halfway point of the conference, you will be given a full hour to get together with your teams to work on the portions of your draft plans that have to do with specific online support programs and services. Templates and worksheets will be provided, and conference instructors will be on hand for questions, individualized coaching, and consultation as needed. You will be asked to share what progress you have made with the group at the end of the hour.



Mental Health and Online Learning

Providing adequate mental health support for distance learners is often more challenging than it is for on-campus students. This session will explore national student mental health trends, best practices for training faculty and advisors to identify the signs of online learners experiencing mental health issues (such as anxiety and depression), and how technology and other tools that are available to institutions to help work around state counseling licensure issues.  


Day 3 | May 22, 2019

Student Support and The Road Ahead

8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.


Student Support: Best Practices for Advising for Success

This session will feature a focused conversation on best-practice techniques for reaching beyond academic advising to support students through their online program journey. The discussion will include a case study that explores the impact and implementation of Arizona State University’s Success Coaching Program and explore how institutions can effectively support online students around non-cognitive factors such as grit, creativity, and time management. You will be given ample time to discuss these topics with the group and to plan for improvement of your own strategies in this area.



Finalizing Your Plan

This hour will give you the opportunity to complete the third and final portions of your draft plans. The conference instructors will be circulating around the room to provide individual help and guidance as needed.



Moving Forward: Key Takeaways and Conference Wrap-Up

May 20 - 22, 2019 | San Diego, CA

Conference Hotel Information

San Diego Marriott
8757 Rio San Diego Drive
San Diego, CA 92108

Room Rate: $189, plus applicable tax.

Room Block Dates: nights of May 19, 20 and 21, 2019.

Rate Available Until: April 28, 2019.

Reserve Your Room: Call 619.692.3800 to make your reservations and indicate that you are with the Academic Impressions group to receive the group rate. Please book early - rooms are limited and subject to availability.


portrait of Kristen Betts

Dr. Kristen Betts

Clinical Professor, Ed.D. Program in Educational Leadership and Management, Drexel University

Dr. Betts has over 20 years of experience in higher education serving in key leadership positions within private, public, and for-profit institutions as a Program Director, Senior Director for e-Learning, Director of Online & Blended Learning, and Chief Academic Officer. Her expertise is in higher education, online and blended learning, curriculum and instructional design, strategic planning, and evaluation. Dr. Betts has received distinguished national awards for her work in higher education and online learning including the CITE 2015 Award by Pearson for Excellence in Online Administration.

Read Kristen's full bio here.

Portrait of Nancy Cervasio

Nancy Cervasio

Executive Director of Learner Services, EdPlus at Arizona State University

Nancy has over 20 years of successful achievement in growing and transforming higher education. She has proven ability in operational leadership and building solutions with a focus on student experience and student retention, beginning with the on-boarding experience through graduation. The Success Coaching Center at Arizona State University Online has been in operation for over two years and since that time has shown positive trends in engagement and student retention as a result. Nancy has presented at various conferences and symposiums throughout her career on all areas student support related with an emphasis on the online learner.

Read Nancy's full bio here.

Portrait of Eric Klein

Dr. Eric Klein

Dean of the Honors College at Ashford University

Dr. Klein has held several administrative positions throughout his career in higher education, and has been described as a visionary, inclusive, and collaborative leader. He has presented at numerous regional, national, and international conferences on the topics of student retention strategies, assessment, academic program review, course design, data and decision-making, and other areas related to teaching and learning. Dr. Klein has also received numerous awards and recognition, including the Alfred Noble Robinson Award at Lehigh University in 2010.

Read Eric's full bio here.

Can't Attend? Buy the Conference Binder

Purchase the conference binder, which includes all presentation slides, worksheets, action plans, and additional resources.

Note: Conference attendees do not need to purchase materials separately.

Questions About the Event?

Kate Poisson
Program Manager, Academic Impressions

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