By Vinod Bakthavachalam, Data Scientist
Setting up a corporate learning program is a big step – but it’s only the first step. Once you have content in place, and you’ve helped employees choose courses that fit their goals, how do you ensure that they stay engaged and make progress? In this post, we’ll look at a few different models for supporting employees in corporate learning programs. We’ll present data that captures the pros and cons of each model, and make a few suggestions to help you choose the best model for your organization.
We’ve seen three broad support models among our current customer base:
- Minimal support: In this model, the employer simply offers content to employees, without additional monitoring or incentives beyond Coursera product features such as progress dashboards and motivational messaging.
- Reactive support: A stick-like model that is heavy on monitoring and consequences for falling behind or not completing.
- Proactive support: A facilitated learning system that provides proactive support services such as small group discussions and office hours.
We examined the effects of each model on engagement and course completion and came away with a few key observations:
- Compared to the minimal support model, both reactive and proactive support lead to higher engagement and course completion. For customers that use either of these support models, almost all employees who are invited to join the training program and enroll in courses do so (on average more than 80%), and overall course completion rates are about twice as high as when no additional support is offered.
- The average employee is more likely to completes courses with proactive support relative to reactive support. While both proactive and reactive support models lead to higher course completion rates than no support at all, employees in a proactive support system have completion rates that are 19% higher than those in a reactive support system.
- For those who don’t complete, the average employee also makes more progress with proactive compared to reactive support. A reactive model creates an asymmetric effect: some employees perform well under the pressure and complete courses at higher rates, but many make little or no progress. Proactive support, however, helps most employees make more progress – and, by extension, develop more skills – even if they don’t complete the course. And these differences are substantial: a proactive model leads to 9% more course progress on average than a reactive model.
- Evidence suggests that a reactive model incentivizes passive learning, while a proactive model incentivizes active learning. Most employees engage with our assignments, but a small number choose only to watch lectures – we call this lecture-only mode “passive learning”. The share of employees who are passive learners is almost twice as high among employees who receive only reactive support relative to employees who receive proactive support. Meanwhile, employees who receive proactive support are 30% more likely to engage in at least three-quarters of assignments.
So, is proactive support better? Not necessarily. Facilitated learning requires resources, and may not be a good option for some companies for that reason alone. Some companies may also prefer a reactive model because it helps them identify intrinsically-motivated employees, or because it fits better with other systems and cultural norms already in place.
At Coursera, we want to support companies in applying both reactive and proactive support. We’ve developed product features for admins to track employee progress, engagement, and deadlines – facilitating reactive support. We have also documented best practices for customers that want to provide office hours and discussion sessions – facilitating proactive support.
Learn more about how Coursera can help your company create a successful corporate learning program.