As a professional in the education industry, you most likely already understand the importance of data and how it can be studied to better improve just about anything. When it comes to course management and administration, the right metrics can generate data that can improve your course’s content and strategy as a whole. But, since there is so much data out there, what are the right ones you should actually measure? This is a question that is very important at the end of the year or semester. If you’re trying to gauge the performance of a course and its efficacy, read on.

An overabundance of data isn’t helpful to anyone. While data on a certain subject might be required for one particular metric, that same data will not be pertinent elsewhere. Fortunately, with a program like XenDirect, educators have access to over 250 reports that offer valuable insights to their course’s performance on multiple levels. When you’re trying to measure the performance of a course after its completion (at the end of the academic year or even the semester), these are the top ten metrics that you should measure. (These are listed in no particular order.)

1. Dropout Rates. How many students stopped attending before the end of your course? How many students stuck it out until the end? With this metric, you will be able to successfully understand how many students decided to terminate enrollment. While each student has his or her own reasons for dropping a course, this metric might still help determine why: course was overwhelming, inconvenient, or irrelevant. For example, did drops increase after a certain point in the curriculum? Consider asking students for feedback when they drop a course: nothing too invasive, just a quick survey of their thoughts on the course and reasons for leaving.

2. Grades. Analyzing grades may seem obvious, but not everyone fully understands how much grades alone can tell you about your content. Search for trends that show patterns. Did a larger percentage of your students fall short on a specific section of your course? Did a large number do particularly well in one section? All of this can reflect on the course facilitator’s skills at teaching. This is also a good metric for explaining student retention levels.

3. Increases In Enrollment. An increase in enrollment can offer insights to your student body’s perception of your course. Was there a spike in enrollment? Did the number decrease or increase from last year? All of this can be reflective of your course’s marketing strategy. Did you know XenDirect offers several marketing solutions? From email marketing to web design, we can help you increase your course’s online visibility and attract the right students.

4. Student Feedback on Courses. Data isn’t just about the numbers. Student feedback can prove to be an extremely valuable resource. After your course is complete, encourage your students to submit feedback through your online program. What did they find the most effective in the course? What sections of the course fell flat? You will notice trends and if you see a common thread amongst all them, whether positive or negative, it is most definitely worth noting.

5. Demographics. By studying the demographics of your student body, you will be able to better market your course in the future. Even though you may have long had an image of your typical student, you may be surprised to find a significant variation from previous years. To better understand your student body and maximize enrollment, data is key!

6. Student Feedback on Instructors. Once again, student feedback can help you determine what is best for the future of your course. Although in this aspect, you can assess if the course facilitator performed adequately and helped your students retain information and pass the course properly. Which instructors are helping your overall program, and which instructors do students avoid?

7. Rates of Progression. If your course allows students to learn at their own pace, it would be helpful to understand the average speed of your students’ progression through the course. You can better pace your course and understand what needs to be improved for the next time. Since many online courses utilize the “learn as you go” method, this is particularly important.

8. Cost. Data can help you ensure that your course isn’t causing financial strain on your school or organization. For example, your course may require material, equipment, and other fees. You can determine how much of your costs are offset by tuition. A bit of accounting can ensure your course is successful and can keep on going for years to come.

9. Material. Assess your current course material and, if applicable, any equipment. Is everything modern and up to date? Do you need to have the newest edition of a text book, or will the previous edition cover all the material adequately? Should you upgrade to another version of software? Review all your material to ensure everything is current.

10. Post-Course Plans. This one is fairly simple. With the right software, you can view your students and see if they move on to the next level of the course’s material. Did they continue to study this subject, or was this a terminal course for them? This will show that your course was a success and it offered insights on a subject that they were interested in further pursuing.

Next, we’ll discuss how you can apply this data to your decision-making process.

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Author Rick J. Stern

Entrepreneur Rick Stern built Xenegrade Corp with a focus on service to educational organizations. With an MBA from Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester and over 20 years continuing education management, his experience provides valuable insight into the needs, demands, and trends of the continuing education market.

More posts by Rick J. Stern

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