Category Archives: Student Success and Retention

Student Retention and Success in Radiology: Live discussion, journals, blogs

This is a guest post authored by ICC Radiography Faculty, Lisa Arnett. If you have virtual campus/online learning information or ideas to share and would like to write for the 5th campus blog, contact Patrice at

Night Before the Test Q&A: Live Online Discussion Forums

Our sophomore students are currently studying Radiobiology and Radiation Protection, material that is both difficult and comprises 25% of the national registry exam that they will be taking after they graduate in July, 2012. They have traditionally struggled with the material so in 2008, my first year of teaching, I was looking for a way to help the students to understand the material so April suggested we meet on Blackboard the night before the test for a live “jam session.”

So the night before the test I am available for one hour to answer questions in the Discussion Board. If enough students participate, I just facilitate the discussion but if only two or three are present, I answer any questions or clear up any concepts they bring up. It has been a well-attended tutoring session and, obviously, the more that participate, the more fun it is. After attending the Blackboard sessions this summer I considered using some of the other collaborative avenues that are available but I ultimately stayed with the Discussion Board for a few reasons: the threads make it more organized and easy to follow (especially when 10-15 students are participating at a time), the discussion that took place is available for those students who were unable to attend to view at a  later time during the evening, and the discussion is also available when the students are reviewing for the final exam. Really, the only disadvantage to the forum is everyone has to back out of the Discussion Board and re-enter it to see new postings.

Mentoring and Retention Strategies: Journals and Blogs

April and I are also very excited about a couple of retention strategies and mentoring initiatives that we piloted this semester for our freshmen students. Our program suffered a pretty drastic attrition rate in our current sophomore class and the main reason that students gave for leaving was they didn’t know what they were getting into. In an effort to address the issue, we piloted an expectation that our students use journaling to keep us informed of how they are doing in their clinical rotation, barriers to studying, stressors, etc…..anything that could signal a potential drop from the program so we can intervene early. We ask that the students journal or come to see us twice this semester just to check in. It is in no way meant to take the place of conversation; either will count towards the expectation. So far it has gone well and no students have dropped to date!

Finally, as a way for our freshman students to stay in touch with each other, mentor each other, and encourage professionalism, we created three blog spots. It will be easier to explain them by sharing the titles and descriptions so I will include them below. The students just started in their clinical rotations so little has happened in the blogs so far but we are hopeful that the students will use them as time goes on.

Blog Examples

Positioning Blog
Are you having problems with a particular radiographic position? Chances are, if you are having problems, someone else is or knows how to help. Quit struggling! Post your positioning challenges and work them out with your peers. Did a tech give you a positioning pointer that was helpful? Share it with everyone! Use this area to improve your positioning skills.

So This Stuff Really Does Work!
Post any examples of what you are learning in the classroom that you were able to apply in clinicals. Did something happen that helped you to “put it all together?” Were you finally able to perform that perfect radiograph that you struggled with for so long? Did you see an example of a theory you were just learning about such as differential absorption? It’s exciting for everyone when the light bulb comes on – tell us about it!

Triumphs in Radiography!
Have you had a particularly great clinical shift? Did you get a compliment from a (gulp!) radiologist? Did you take the most I-can’t-believe-how-gorgeous-that-turned-out chest x-ray or knee x-ray or scapula x-ray? Did a tech actually smile at you and ask you your name? Did a patient thank you for your kindness? Let everyone know about your accomplishments, your victories, and those things that keep you coming back for more! We could all use a lift!

Lisa Arnett is an instructor in the ICC Radiography Program and a member of the ICC Online Learning Task Force.  Email Lisa at for more information about these strategies or Patrice at about the online learning task force at Illinois Central College