Recap: Student Success & Engagement in High Enrollment Courses


Presentation Title

Carving the Waves of Student Success and Engagement in High-Enrollment Courses



Presenters were instructional designers from Arizona State University: Adrienne Wooten,  @brendan_lake ‌ and Alexandra Miller. The presentation summary noted that they would share how they leveraged module settings, external tool integration and groups assignments to affect student success and engagement in high-enrollment courses.

The first part of the presentation defined what is a high-enrollment course and shared category types of high-enrollment courses.

  • Team-taught course
    This is a course with multiple teachers that share the instructional load (approximately 20 mins. per student a week). Main challenges include organizing students into cohorts and organizing instructor views/messages.
  • Stretched course
    This type of course includes larger than average enrollment, requiring minor adjustments for support and assessment (approximately 10 mins. per student a week). Main challenges include helping students feel supported/connected and managing grading & feedback. Suggested assessments would be anything that can be graded quickly.
  • Watchtower course
    With the limited time (approximately 5 mins. per student a week), the instructor intervenes as needed likely foregoing personalized feedback. Main challenges include organizing effective assessments and helping students feel supported. Recommended assessments are mostly/all auto-graded with some open-ended projects including peer review.
  • Robot course
    Course essentially runs itself with instructor time dedicated to answering questions/troubleshooting (approximately 2 mins. per student a week). Main challenges are reducing technical issues & student confusion and academic integrity. Suggested assessments are all auto-graded.

Brendan also provided a time per student equation using: Expected instructor or TA time per week/students = time per student per week (for grading, feedback, answering questions, troubleshooting etc). For example if one instructor is expecting to allocate 9 hours of time per week for a course, then 100 students = 5.4 minutes per student per week.

Brendan Lake, ASU Instructional Designer

It was shared that instructors should set student's expectations in a high-enrollment course as far as grading turnaround & feedback type, as well as sharing ways they can be reached for help. Student expectations can also be set by using rubrics for all assignments.

Since in high-enrollment course, discussion forums can be unwieldy. It was shared that ASU uses Slack for faculty-student communication and much more. Additionally to improve engagement with course materials, ASU used PlayPosit to provide in-video quizzes.[Multiple-choice, check-all-that-apply and fill-in-the-blank question types are all auto-graded with PlayPosit.] 


There are different types of high-enrollment courses, with different expectations of faculty-student interaction or engagement. Setting those expectations with students is key. Fostering engagement in high-enrollment courses is not easy but doable.



As some might be aware, the Florida SUS BOG has set an initiative that 70% of all fully online classes at each institution by 2025 achieve a quality certification, similar to Quality Matters. This type of certification requires multiple modes of engagement (teacher-student, student-content, student-student) and a variety of assessment types. As a FL highered instructional designer, I was extremely interested in attending this session as applying those to high-enrollment courses can be difficult. There is a finite amount of time that instructors can spend on these type of courses.

The use of Slack enterprise by ASU was interesting, but requires university-wide buy-in. This past semester I used Playposit on a small scale with the class I teach and did a survey following. All but one student preferred viewing videos through Playposit, who recommended that questions be all at the end of the video. Several of the students in their feedback actually described themselves as the activity being more interesting or engaging. I would be interested in hearing more about how others provide engagement in their high-enrollment courses; share your experiences with me!




InstructureCon 2019

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