Student Retention in a Competitive Education Climate
While student retention is an ongoing issue for many colleges and universities, the problem is more acute for La Cité, the only fully French-speaking College in Ottawa. “With funding for college institutions tied to graduation rates, student retention is a top of mind issue for any college. But it is even more of an issue for us, in a city where nearly one third of the population speaks both official languages,” explains Michel Singh, Senior Advisor, Technology Integration at La Cité.
Seeking to address the problem of student attrition, La Cité had previously invested in an off-the-shelf early warning system to help identify at risk students. The project failed miserably. “The system was very awkward to use, and didn’t provide us with the ongoing monitoring we needed. Faculty were only required to go into the system a couple of times a year and it was simply not enough,” says Singh.
Manual Methods Fail to Yield Results
La Cité also tried manual methods to identify students at risk. “Student services would meet with faculty twice—once at mid-term and then again at the end of term for a complete progress review. They would go through every student, looking at grades, attendance, and gathering teacher feedback. It was a long drawn out meeting—up to three hours, and again, didn’t really give us that early warning system we really needed to identify students at risk. By that meeting at mid-term, we were often too late to intervene,” says Singh.
Lukewarm Faculty Adoption of Existing LMS
Further adding to its challenges, La Cité also struggled for years with faculty adoption of its previous LMS. After nearly eight years of use, the adoption rate still hovered around 50%. “We were always playing around with the system trying to figure out how to boost our adoption rate, but at the time, use of the system was not a requirement, and faculty just didn’t see the value in the tool,” says Singh.
Frustrated by the mediocre adoption rate, and at the same time pressured by the solution’s vendor to upgrade to an entirely new system, La Cité embarked on a search for a new learning platform that would offer a good product, good implementation and drive up adoption numbers.