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January 29, 2024

How to Re-Engage Students Who Don't Complete My Course

Sergey Butko avatar
Sergey Butko

How to Re-Engage Students Who Don't Complete My Course

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You've crafted a GREAT course, complete with engaging videos and comprehensive learning materials. Sign-ups are impressive, signaling a promising start.

Yet, there's a catch: only 40% of your students are crossing the finish line.

And this gap between enrollment and completion is a puzzle you need to solve.

Today, we'll show you how to take your training participants to the other side of your course.

Spoiler: some of these practices you can implement straight away!

Understanding the Learner's Churn

Before we start talking about HOW to make people complete your training sessions, let's talk about WHY we even had to write this article in the first place.

Signing up for a training session is easy. Starting the learning process is not the hardest either. But what's challenging here is the actual knowledge acquisition during continuous learning, and finishing the course. To encourage it, you should get a sense of WHERE it's coming from.

FOMO: Why they click 'Sign up'

Why do so many people jump into your course but don't finish? It's often FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out. They see everyone else signing up and think, "I've got to be part of this!". Or, they don't know that yet, but either way, they don't want to miss the boat.

Signing up because of a trend doesn't always mean they're really into it – it's like buying a gym membership and never going.

The "Oh, I forgot" factor

Sometimes, you need a little reminder to do something? It's the same with your students. They sign up all excited, but then life gets busy.

That's normal.

Without a little nudge from you, like a friendly reminder or a "Hey, we miss you in class!" message, they might just forget to come back. Or postpone it. Forever.

The "This is tough!" moment

Have you ever started something and then hit a wall? Your students have been there and done that, too. They're all fired up at the start, but then they hit a tough spot and think, "I can't do this." They might not tell you, but they're struggling. They get stuck on a particular episode, lesson, presentation, or exam. And oftentimes... they simply don't go back.

When motivation takes a break

As they say, the best things in life are free. There's a plethora of free classroom activities and training content available. But sometimes, when we don't pay for a course, we don't value it as much.

It's like those free apps on your phone you never open.

Your students might need more than just free lessons to keep going. They need a reason, something that makes them think, "I've got to finish this!". Read on to find out what could give them that reason.

How to make students more engaged so they finish your course?

A boy who is encouraging the students to participate again.

Issue certificates to encourage participation and completion of your training session

If you'd look at online courses as a cake, the certificate would be a cherry on top. It's not just a piece of paper or a PDF – it's a prize, a tangible reward for all the hard work and dedication.

Having a certificate as a goal gives your course an edge.

Certificates also add a layer of seriousness to your course. Students often prioritize courses that offer certificates because they need them for their professional development or personal milestones.

This focus on certification keeps students engaged and committed to completing the course.

The certificate sounds noble. Noble often sounds complicated. It doesn't have to be the case with certificates, though!

With tools like Certifier, you can easily design and distribute certificates, even for a larger group or many small groups. Training participants can receive recognition for their hard work, enhancing their personal experience with your course.

The example of designing a certificate template within the Certifier dashboard.

[Download this certificate template]

Through certificates, you're acknowledging the efforts of your students – but also elevating the perceived value of your training sessions and boosting their success. And with easy ways of generating certificates, you have very few excuses not to try.

Implement gamification to get your students engaged for real

Just like your training participants needed that initial push to sign up, they need ongoing nudges to keep moving forward in the course.

Active gamification is a fantastic way to do this.

It turns learning into a more interactive and enjoyable experience to improve student engagement.

Look at Duolingo. Although it's not a traditional course, it brilliantly uses progress bars and notifications. Notifications serve as regular reminders and motivators, keeping the course on the student's radar.

Duolingo as an example of gamification in the course.

These elements add a game-like feel to the learning process to continuously encourage users to return and continue their lessons. There's a sense of achievement, progress, and... fear of missing out.

Square one to FOMO again!

Incorporating gamification into your course can range from simple tactics like progress bars and student achievement badges for new skills to more complex systems involving competitive activities and leaderboards.

The key is to make the learning process fun and engaging, giving students a reason to carry on.

Offer personalized feedback and support for training participants

When training participants hit a roadblock, you must identify and address it promptly.

The sooner you do it, the better, as there might be more learners struggling with the exact same thing.

Personalized feedback and support can make a world of difference in keeping students engaged and on track. This approach shows that you're not just delivering content; you're also invested in their learning journey.

Personalized feedback helps students understand where they stand and what they need to improve. This can be technical guidance on how to access presentations or join the classroom, but it can also be another nudge towards their personal education plan. This kind of support can be a game-changer, especially when students feel stuck or overwhelmed.

Here are some effective feedback and support options you can implement:

  • Webinars – host regular sessions to discuss common challenges and solutions

  • Knowledge base – create a resource center with articles, case studies, and FAQs

  • Peer-to-peer learning – encourage students to form study groups for mutual support

  • Live chat support – offer real-time assistance to address immediate concerns and retain information from the very start

  • Email sequences – send personalized tips and encouragement based on course progress

  • Interactive Q&A sessions – allow students to ask questions and get instant feedback

  • One-on-one coaching – provide individual attention to those who need extra help

  • Progress tracking tools – help students assess their own learning and identify areas for improvement

Implement cohort-based programs for community and support

In a cohort, peers learn from and with each other, sharing insights and experiences. Instead of just listening to a trainer or watching a video with a lesson on it, students communicate.

Building a community around the course.

A group of students, all diving into your course together, week by week.

They're not just watching videos and reading notes; they're part of a team.

They discuss, they share, and they help each other out.

It's like having a mini classroom online.

In these cohorts, everyone's learning from each other, not just from the teacher. It's a whole new level of getting into the subject.

Why does it matter for the overall training and teaching? Students feel that they belong to the group and need to do something as a group. Hence, they have not only motivation but a sense of responsibility and accountability assigned to them.

They want to be a part of the group's engagement, fun, training – and, in the end, its success.

Provide exclusive access to additional resources post-completion

Think your course ends with the final slide? Think again!

Offering exclusive materials after completion can be exactly what your learners need, even if it doesn't sound like it.

Download more learning materials as a CTA to engage the students again.

It's about keeping the excitement alive even after the game over screen. When students know there's more to gain after finishing, they're more driven to get there. It's the thrill of unlocking a bonus level!

Here are some meaningful extras you could offer:

  • Advanced modules for deep-divers to evaluate their skills.

  • Access to a special job board, connecting qualified grads with top opportunities.

  • Exclusive webinars with industry experts.

  • A community forum for interested graduates to network and share experiences.

It turns the end of your course into a new beginning, keeping the learning journey exciting and ongoing.

Key takeaways

Implementing cohort-based programs enhances engagement through collaborative learning.

  • Gamification techniques keep students motivated and eager to continue.

  • Offering exclusive post-completion resources creates anticipation and extends the learning journey.

  • Issuing certificates provides a tangible goal and benefit, driving interest in completing the course.

Over to you

There are no perfect courses, teachers, instructors, modules, ideas, groups, or report options.

And there's no correct answer to what to do exactly to improve each personal experience and engage students.

Understanding student engagement comes with constant communication – and giving them room for improvement during your training. Recognize their needs, deliver bespoke experience and watch these completion rates hitting 100%. Good luck!

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WRITTEN BY

Sergey Butko

Tech entrepreneur. Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe. Digital Marketer.