The Only 2 Questions You Need to Ask Students to Know if They’ll Succeed

April 20, 2022

When you’re running a live online learning program, it’s important to know whether or not your learners will succeed. 

Will they complete the program? Will they drop out? Will they have meaningful takeaways? 

If you want to get a pulse on these questions, you might send out a survey. But surveys themselves definitely aren’t a silver bullet.

First, it’s hard to know exactly what questions to ask.

Second, surveys themselves can be pretty flawed. They often have low response rates and students can flat out lie about their experience in your program. 

Nevertheless, according to an Illinois Wesleyan University study, these kinds of checkins are essential for creating a positive learning environment that benefits both learners and instructors, as they provide a sense of how learners are feeling and an opportunity to better understand individual learning needs - key ingredients for preventing churn.

According to the team at 2U, there are really only two questions that you need to ask to get an accurate pulse on whether a student is thriving in your program. In fact, the responses to these two questions had a 100% correlation to student success in programs where they were asked. 

The two questions are:

  1. Did you feel you could master the material learned and apply it?
  2. Did you feel academically supported?

Learn more about the importance of collecting qualitative feedback here

Let’s break these questions down to get a clearer idea of why they’re so reliable in determining student success. 

Did you feel you could master the material learned and apply it?

The underlying sentiment of this question has to do with how students feel about the way the curriculum of your program is structured. 

  • Did they feel the material was broken down in a way that the content itself was accessible? 
  • Did they feel the program was structured so that each new module built on knowledge from previous modules? 
  • Did they have opportunities to apply the knowledge learned, reflect on that experience, and build confidence around their growing skillset? 

Did you feel academically supported?

The underlying sentiment of this question has to do with how students feel about the quality and accessibility of your instructors. 

  • Did learners feel safe and encouraged to reach out for help where needed? 
  • Did they trust that the instructors were knowledgeable enough to answer their questions? 
  • Did they feel that the instructors were capable of breaking down concepts to meet the learning needs of their students? 

Chances are, a student that feels like your program curriculum is well-structured and your instructors are reliable is likely to consider the program a worthy investment of their time and money and is therefore more likely to successfully complete it. 

When students trust the program itself, they’re more likely to believe in the advertised outcomes of the program and push through when things get hard. They’re also more likely to reach out for help, which gives you an opportunity to intervene and fill in any gaps. 

After all, students that actively reach out are easier to support; those that don’t more easily fall through the cracks. 

That’s why determining signals that a student is struggling and using those signals to intervene can significantly prevent churn.

Using a Student Relationship Manager (SRM) can help. SRMs can automate data collection, flagging students using custom triggers, and student outreach to offer support.

Virtually’s SRM does all this and more. Click here to sign up for our waitlist. 

Read Next: The 3 Indicators of Student Retention and Success

Laura Marks

Laura Marks is Head of Customer Experience at Virtually