General description of the project:
This proposal is to share practices that the author uses in one of her 100% online courses that prove to increase the engagement and retention of Hispanic students. The course selected by the author is Labor Security and Hygiene (HRMA 3200) a requirement for the students in the undergraduate program of human resources management. This course does not have a prerequisite; students from departments different from entrepreneurial and managerial sciences can take the course. For example, many times, students from the Nursing School took the course.
During the semester of August to December 2020, the students had to revise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and see what they were recommending to employers in terms of COVID-19 and their prevention. After that, they participate in a synchronous forum and share with each other what they had learned. Other activity was a project identifying one enterprise in a specific industry and looking on the homepages of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the CDC, and others regulatory agencies that have developed recommendations for that industry on how to protect employees against COVID-19.
After that, each student had to present synchronously their findings and how the enterprise selected applies it. This activity leverages the learning of each student and their application to their own workplaces and to the enterprise they selected at the community. During the semester of August to December 2020 the students also participate in online seminars provided by the Office of Puerto Rico OSHA. They received the most updated information regarding COVID-19 and the care at work to avoid spread. The students were more than happy and motivated to stay on the course because they were learning from real life and with real people using technology at no additional cost besides the course registration fee.
During the semester of August to December 2021, the activities that most increased students’ motivation were the assignments that include interactive work between them and with the professor. Those activities, among others, were the live calculation of cost of accidents and insurance with the professor using the whiteboard of the Blackboard platform, and a synchronous conference about new 2021 Emergency Temporary Standards related to COVID-19.
In the semester of August to December 2022, the professor used again the live calculation of cost of accidents and insurance exercises. Besides, she included an interactive module prepared using Rise 360 to present the historical development of the laws and regulations related to security and hygiene in the workplace. This was an innovative way to present a topic that was typically boring for students. This time it was fun and interesting. In the assignment associated with this topic, 95% of the students passed with a grade higher than 80%.
Retention rates were:
August – December 2020: 100%
August – December 2021: 90%
August – December 2022: 96%
The experience teaches me that online participation is necessary for retention in virtual courses.
This results in greater learning, motivation and engagement in the course and transforms into higher retention of students at the University.