Monitoring student learning

Rationale for monitoring online learning

Why is it important to monitor your student's engagement with the learning journey? Regardless of the mode of delivery, what you have designed and begun to facilitate, requires regular monitoring and evaluation to ensure if the plan is working, and the students are on track to successfully complete the course. Regular monitoring and evaluation of learning and teaching throughout the teaching period is necessary for:

  • Real time feedback from students. There is no point waiting until the end of the course to find out if your students are engaging with your course materials. If things are not working, or additional supports are required, it is best to find out earlier rather than later so that you can make adjustments.
  • Real time feedback from teaching staff. Just as you need to ensure that your students are managing their learning, so too is it important to ensure that teaching staff in the course are managing with their teaching load and maintaining quality learning and teaching practices.
  • Identifying students at risk. The Federation University 2020 Learning, Teaching and Student Success Plan (Focused) highlights the importance of monitoring student engagement. The identification of students 'at risk' and developing individualised plans requires regular monitoring of student attendance at face-to-face sessions, accessing of learning resources, engagement with peers in online spaces, and managing course expectations. For more information on these documents, visit Learning, Teaching and Student Success Plans .
  • Student retention and success. Regular evaluation and identifying of  'what's working' and 'what's not' is crucial for ongoing planning and facilitating a learning journey that meets the learning needs of the student cohort.  Regular monitoring of student engagement and adapting to enhance learning has a greater chance of maximising student retention and success.

Student retention and success

Getting students enrolled in programs and courses is only the first step in higher education.  Universities spend considerable time, money and effort on advertising and connecting with prospective students and making them feel welcome on campus or online. But an ever increasing trend is the number of students who do not continue through to graduation. Thus student engagement, retention and success is becoming a major priority for universities world-wide.

As well as representing significant human loss, student attrition from tertiary education has significant financial ramifications, both for the students who withdraw before completing their program and for the University. There are, therefore, both moral and economic reasons to prioritise a university-wide effort to improve our student retention and enable more of our students to succeed in their studies. The goal of focusing on student engagement, retention and success is to draw on research and best-practice, principles and activity to create a coordinated, institution-wide strategy to minimise attrition.

Resources, strategies or assistance


  • Australian Government (2017) Improving retention, completion and success in higher education. Higher Education Standards Panel Discussion Paper.
  • Edwards, D. & McMillan, J. (2015). Completing university in a growing sector: Is equity an issue? Report submitted to the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, Australia. Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), Melbourne, Australia.



  • Contact your Institute's Director, Learning and Teaching to seek advice on student engagement, retention and success data for your Program and guidelines for your Institute.