Keep Your Students Interested

A couple of months ago, I talked to you about the joys of teaching Digital Marketing in an international business school and how the use of technology can potentially help to keep students engaged in the classroom. As already mentioned, it’s one thing to attract students with a great curriculum and great business partnerships, it’s another thing to keep them interested once they are in your school and your classrooms.

In this article, we’ll explore ways to monitor students’ engagement overtime and share tips and tricks to prevent dropouts. We’ll also look at the critical role of technology in the delivery of teaching especially during the current lockdown.

KPIs You Need To Be Tracking

Keeping your students engaged is kind of like keeping your customers happy. Let’s consider that a school is a service and that an engaged student is a loyal customer, what would be the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to keep an eye on?

The client’s participation rate

The participation rate refers to the share of customers actively participating in the brand loyalty program. This indicator allows you to refine a calculation of the brand loyalty rate and also provides valuable information on the actual level of engagement of the average customer with the company.

One of the axes of improvement of the participation rate is to set up a strong and personalized loyalty program, and regularly survey its customers on the subject.

How does that translate into students’ engagement?

Well, a sign of appreciation of the curriculum could be students’ attendance in class which can be monitored in schools where showing up in class is tracked.

A participation rate could also refer to how active the students are in class to answer the teacher’s questions and or share their prospective and ideas. In the case of digital classrooms, the number of connections can be relevant as well as reactions to the content that is posted before, during and after the class in the shape of downloads, comments or other types of activities.

The customer attrition rate

In terms of customer loyalty, the attrition rate is one of the best known and most used performance indicators. The churn is used to determine the proportion of customers lost over a given period.

The definition of a “lost customer” is specific to each brand but generally implies a certain period of inactivity and no purchase (one year, two years, etc.).

To measure this rate, the number of customers lost is divided by the total number of customers over the period, multiplied by 100.

Churn rate = (customers lost period X to Y / total customers period X to Y) x 100

Not losing customers is considered by some brands to be a more important and interesting objective than acquiring new ones.

How does that translate into students’ engagement?

This is all about tracking drop-offs over the years. If you are looking at a Master’s program in France, the total length of the curriculum would be 5 years. High levels of attribution rate could lead to questioning either the relevancy of the curriculum over the years and or the quality of the recruitment program and admission policies.

To reduce the attrition rate, in-depth studies are possible to identify the reasons and adjust the curriculum to the students’ expectations and or initiate a more consistent promotion of the school.

The NPS: Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) corresponds to the share of customers likely to recommend, or on the contrary to advise against a product, a service or a brand.

Through a questionnaire, the survey places on a scale of 1 to 10 the probability of promoting a brand to those around them. The most satisfied and loyal customers answering 9 or 10 are potential “promoters”, while those checking a number less than or equal to 6 can become detractors and require special proactive attention to resolve their problems before having a negative snowball effect. Between these two categories are liabilities corresponding to neutral customers. Satisfaction is present but the enthusiasm of the promoters is not yet present. Liabilities are the most vulnerable to competition and also difficult to convert.

How to calculate the NPS? By a very simple formula: the final score, out of 100, is obtained by subtracting the percentage of promoters from that of detractors.

NPS =% promoters – % detractors

A score close to +100 (all clients are promoters) will always be better than a -100 (all clients are detractors). From 50, the score is considered good.

How does that translate into students’ engagement?

If a student is convinced by the curriculum of your school and the quality of his or her school, he or she will gladly give positive feedback and get loud in their social circles online and offline. This is particularly relevant for schools whose recruitment is very local and or whose recruitment process relies on current students’ testimonials. For example, the school where I teach involves current active students in the promotional events such as student fairs, school open doors or the online chat of the school. The success of these activities relies on how well the students know the school but most important how much enthusiasm they convey.

These are the 3 KPIs that apply best to monitor students’ engagement. A dashboard helping teachers and school management can become a real asset for happy students’ experiences. It allows visibility of the areas for improvement to be developed when analyzing these indicators defined on the basis of set objectives. It also indicates which efforts to focus on in particular, with the ultimate goal of improving students’ satisfaction and therefore developing your school’s brand.

Customer satisfaction

It’s now clear that keeping students engaged and loyal to your school relate very much to keeping your customers satisfied! Now that we have looked at measuring the satisfaction with the right KPIs, let’s take a closer look at the service itself and what can potentially be adjusted to improve the monitored KPIs. Let’s examine the key factors of good quality teaching! The below graph includes 6 critical success factors to ensure training efficacy. This is true for universities and business schools, but this could also apply to all types of training including business training programs.

Let’s detail each of these factors and how they could relate to students’ satisfaction.

  1. Instructional design: To be fully understood, a program needs to be structured and sequential. If a student can not follow the logic of the teacher or is lost in the program, there is very little chance that he will stay engaged.
  2. Accuracy & Alignment: giving some meaning is extremely relevant! To commit to the teaching a student first needs to see the importance of the given skill: why is this relevant to know or to do for my future career or life project?
  3. Data Quality: if an assignment is included, there always needs to be clarity on the objective and evaluation criteria. A student will actively prepare and participate if he is sure of what’s expected of him and what needs to be accomplished. Any unclarity can lead to demotivation.
  4. Whole literacy: the ability to put academic arguments into practice in the most accessible way possible.
  5. Student motivation: format diversity is key, from games to videos to storytelling, the attention will stay intact overtime if the delivery is as entertaining as the content is relevant. But it’s also important to look at the classroom as a partnership. My boss tells me it’s a 50/50 kind of deal: while a teacher’s job is to entice the students’ curiosity, the students need to meet the teachers halfway by actually paying attention.
  6. Depth of knowledge: no expertise generates very little respect! In other words, it’s important to put the right teacher on the right subject so that students easily recognize the quality of the teaching backed up by the right amount of research and experience.

If these conditions are met, would it guaranty that students will be forever satisfied? It really depends on your target’s aspirations, which can be diverse and evolve over time. So, to keep their customers happy, schools and teachers need to constantly get to know their audience and keep it interactive!

Technology can help

….in many ways! As we just discussed, keeping the lines of communication open always is very important to keep students satisfied. To make this happen, school staff needs to be available and open, that’s the basis. Another key condition of efficient communication is the variety of channels with which students can express themselves and reach the teachers and school management.

In the current lockdown situation, students can not just pass by a teacher’s office if they want to discuss a topic. Technology helps us keep in touch from email to video conferences, the tools are multiple. Monitoring the use of these tools can be a good way to keep track of students’ engagement and motivation during such unusual times.

Maybe one final note on the communication relevancy on what to do with the KPIs and students’ data. Satisfaction tracking is fine but useless if not communicated properly nor implemented by the management and the teachers:

  • Students’ engagement tracking is relevant if it leads to action plans with objectives for the next period.
  • Customer satisfaction is dynamic so the students’ satisfaction should be measured constantly for example by making a satisfaction survey a recurring event.
  • Work with KPIs but also keep your communication channels open for insights and feedback: assessing the students’ engagement should be both quantitative AND qualitative!

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