Adult Learning and Development

ACBSP EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING TRACK. Synchronous online learning: Increasing online student success with direct faculty engagement using Live Sessions

More than 50 higher education professionals joined me during the ACBSP Excellence in Teaching Track for a presentation on the impact that synchronous activites can have on students in online classrooms. The presentation explored literature on the tradeoffs students face for the convenience of online learning and opportunities that live interaction might offer to students in online environments. We also reviewed the results of a project to test the impact of live sessions on the psychological factors that serve as predictors of student success in otherwise asynchronous environments. The results found significant improvement in student learning outcomes and faculty satisfaction in comparison to control groups.

Following is a link to the presentation slides and a summary of the presentation.

bduncan psychological factors survey results08JUN18 50Slides 

Increasing online student success with direct faculty engagement using Live Sessions>‚Äč


To impact psychological factors that can predict student success, we conducted action research that integrated weekly one-hour live sessions in otherwise synchronous online classrooms. Results showed improvement in student learning outcomes and faculty satisfaction in comparison to control groups.


During this presentation, I will show how integrating weekly synchronous instruction into otherwise synchronous online classrooms can be a low-resource high-impact means to influence online student persistence and performance, while boosting faculty engagement and satisfaction.

In attempt to influence persistence through increased faculty engagement with new students entering a Masters of Business Administration program, we conducted an action research project through which a test group of faculty conducted weekly one-hour Live Sessions using Skype for Business. A student survey and weekly online focus groups showed almost universal satisfaction with the Live Session approach. Especially important was student data that showed how Live Sessions influenced psychological factors that can serve as predictors of student success. Classroom data also found that, in comparison to control groups, courses that held weekly Live Sessions had students with higher attendance rates, assignment completion rates, persistence rates, and satisfaction rates.

From the faculty perspective, the synchronous online learning component required additional work to learn, setup, and administer. However, increased engagement of students and improved student performance balanced the setup requirements, while adding an enjoyable element to online instruction that is difficult to attain in purely asynchronous classrooms.


Although students can learn as effectively in online environments as in traditional classroom, retention in online classrooms is typically far below that of retention in traditional classrooms. This is because the asynchronous nature of online learning isolates individual students from faculty and classmates, and requires students to develop new learning skills and disciplines in a foreign environment. Introducing synchronous elements into otherwise asynchronous online classrooms has the potential to revolutionize online instruction by directly connecting students with faculty and classmates, and providing a smoother transition from traditional to online classrooms.