Student retention

2 Jan

So colleagues, what are your secrets for retaining students and encouraging regular attendance? With informal, community ESOL it can be tricky to keep students attending. For a variety of reasons – classes are open and free, there is continuous enrolment, lack of end of course exams (in some cases), students find work during our courses – some of our classes either struggle for consistent numbers or have a high turnover. If you have any ideas or experience to share please post here!

Ideas to kick-off:

Charge a £10 deposit to commit students to the course
Ask students to text or call when they can’t make it
Call students if they have not attended to ask why and if they’ll be coming next week
Don’t try to cater to all levels – go with the majority and then send the outlying students elsewhere
Set homework that relates to activities for the following week
Include students in course planning
Enlist the help of one of the teachers or parents at the school to encourage people to attend

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2 Responses to “Student retention”

  1. englishforaction January 2, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    Ideas sound great thanks! I think the idea about getting teachers at the school more involved in reminding parents could be a really positive one as they will probably see the parents more often than EFA teachers do.

    Recently I’ve been asking students who have missed a few weeks of classes (when I see them around school or via text) whether they are coming to class today or if not then the next week. I think it makes both teacher and student feel less awkward and creates the feeling that the student is welcome back to the class at any time. Something I find difficult is asking students why they haven’t been attending but this term I’m going to make an effort to find out as I think it will be really useful. The only thing is asking without sounding like I’m prying, any suggestions?

    In my experience setting homework hasn’t necessarily meant that students come the next week, it can also feel quite alienating for students who weren’t there when the homework was set to follow the class and can actually make them feel like they’ve missed too much to return the next week.

    Quite a good way to boost numbers is to ask each student to invite a friend to the class. If you ask a group of 10 you’ll probably recruit a few new students and it’s a nice way for students to have more control in shaping their ESOL community.

  2. englishforaction January 3, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    Asking students why they haven’t been attending is really important. As well as reinforcing that the class is important and serious it can unearth problems that the student may wish to discuss or need support with. Or, it can be an opportunity to get feedback about the class.

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