January 20th, 2022 E-Learning

According to a study from MIT, online course providers are experiencing an increase in signups but later succumb to the struggles of low completion rates. The study cites an average dropout rate of 96% amongst their Harvard cohorts. This is no different from the obstacles that online course creators face. 

With the absence of face-to-face interaction, keeping learners motivated and engaged enough to finish is proving to be a mountain of an obstacle for anyone opting to offer their courses online. Is there any hope of achieving a course completion rate that soars above 15%?

Embedding a few psychological hacks or strategies into your course can help improve the learning experience and increase course completion rates.

1. Implement multimodal learning 

When it comes to learning and information retention, there are different ways in which people process knowledge. With online learning, it is difficult to know the individual learning style of every learner that takes your course. Cover your bases by using multimodal learning. 

Multimodal learning is teaching a concept using reading, writing, visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic methods to improve learning quality. It works because it helps match your course content to the learning style of your learners. This improves their focus and boosts their confidence in completing your course. 

Try adding a course workbook or including synchronous sessions to keep your course engaging. 

2. Improve commitment by avoiding free courses

A report from the New York Times stated that ’10 percent or fewer students complete free courses, while the completion rates for paid courses that grant certificates or degrees range from 40 percent to 90 percent.’ 

Paid courses work because it’s one of the best ways to encourage students to make a high-stake commitment. That can increase motivation to complete the course. LearnDash seamlessly integrates with WooCommerce to make selling your courses easier on your WordPress site. 

3. Show real-world applications using schemata

In psychology, a schema describes a pattern of thought or behavior that organizes categories of information and the relationships among them. It increases engagement and motivation because it allows learners to understand how the course content is connected to the world around them.

In your course content, make time and space to show real-world applications of the information to their personal goals and experiences. Making this connection can help learners retain more information throughout the course. 

4.Make a deeper connection with Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

Social-Emotional Learning is the learning framework through which people of all ages acquire skills in working towards their own unique goals, comprehending and managing their emotions, nurturing positive relationships, making informed choices, and feeling and exhibiting empathy.

Although this teaching technique is used for emotionally underdeveloped children, it humanizes your online course and creates an avenue to connect with your learners. 

You can do this by offering a bonus element that includes live group sessions or scheduled meetups for your cohorts to give them time to process their emotions surrounding your course, engage in course related conversations, and build a sense of community.

In closing…

Offering courses is not only about sharing your expertise. When you commit to creating course content that empowers learners in your industry to grow professionally, confident leaders are usually the byproduct. Using proven psychology strategies in your LearnDash courses can increase your course completion rates by curating better learning environments for your learners to succeed on a larger scale.

LearnDash Collaborator photo

Posted in


2 responses

Leave a Comment

Hi Mikelya,

Thank you for the article.

I just wanted to point out that the idea of ‘learning styles’ is now outdated and has been pretty much debunked in educational research.


There is a plethora of articles about this on the net.

I would kindly request for you to remove that aspect from the article.

Kind regards,


Avatar Neil Williams

Hi Neil! We certainly appreciate you taking the time to read the post and make this suggestion. We will look into it and find ways to improve this article. Thank you.

Avatar Karmen Kendrick

Comments are closed.

Your course could already be online!

We offer a 15 day money-back guarantee and have a world class community to help you get your course online today!

See LearnDash in action. Online Demo

Join Our Next Webinar!

LearnDash webinars are designed to teach you how to build, grow, and scale your course-building business. Join our team in one of our next live webinars.