Add a “Quick Win” to Your First Section

You’ve probably noticed that some students drop out of your course without even getting to the “good stuff”. Because learning on Udemy is 100% on-demand and completely self-directed, there are a myriad of reasons a student may leave your course. But that doesn’t mean you can’t influence whether a student goes or stays! One key element of convincing a student to stick with your course is to include a “quick win” early on – in fact, the earlier the better (but definitely in your first section). This “quick win” serves to activate students.

There are many ways you can activate your students depending on your course topic and your own personal teaching style. Adapt the plan below to work with your own topic and teaching style.

Provide Instruction

Before you can activate students with what they’ve just learned, you have to teach it!

  • Start the lecture by giving a short introduction sentence: “In this lecture you’re going to learn…” This signals to the student that you’re jumping right into the content, and about to teach them something real.
  • Choose a concept relevant to the course: you don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty, but something foundational that will set the stage for what’s to come. This element of the course topic should be relatively easy to understand (but not already understood).

As an example, imagine you’re teaching a course on photography fundamentals: you could start by explaining the importance of light and shadow in photographs. You may even talk about how contrast can influence the mood evoked when viewing the photograph.

If you’re teaching a course on beginning SQL, you could start by defining the SELECT/FROM/WHERE phrases. This gives students the skeleton of every query they’ll write from that point forward.

Give an Example

Now that you’ve taught the concept, give an example. How does this concept apply to a real world object, scenario, or situation?

Using our photography course example, you could now show a series of photos for the student to consider. Compare a few photos that use contrast to those that don’t. You’ve just visually and concretely demonstrated the concept you taught. Your students will start to view photographs in an entirely new way.

Or in a completely different example, demonstrate opening an interactive coding browser and typing three lines of code.

Include an Activity

You’ve just given your students an example and now you should prompt them to try it for themselves. This is where the real activation comes in! Your students have just learned something important — when you have them actually apply their new-found skills you’re boosting their confidence by instilling the belief: “Yes, I can really do this!”

Again, let’s use the example of the photography course. You could ask students to place an object on their desk and take a photo, then position a lit lamp on one side of the object and take the same photo. Have them compare the two photos and the visual impact of each.

Whatever you do, ensure that your directions for the activity you choose are very clear, and that the activity itself is not complicated – nothing is worse for the student than a failed activity in the beginning of the course!


Your students have just learned something entirely new, something that caused them to shift their perspective, or view the overall topic in a new way. They’ve gained an understanding of how this new knowledge is relevant to their own lives, and they’ve even applied it themselves. They’re probably feeling pretty good about all this!

Now you need to use that momentum to keep them going.

  • Start by unpacking whatever learnings resulted from the interactive exercise, and providing some further context and explanation.
  • Reward students for the skill they just acquired – by emphasizing that they did in fact acquire it and then explaining its relevancy.

This is also a great time to segue into the next concept: “Now you understand the visual and emotional impact of light and shadow in photographs, let’s discuss how you can use your camera settings to achieve this effect.” This builds momentum in your course, from lecture to lecture, and skill to skill.  Momentum is crucial to keeping students engaged throughout your course.

The student now feels excited and accomplished, and is that much more likely to move to the next lecture.

The Quick Win

If you provide this “quick win” to students in the first section (approximately first 10 minutes) of your course, you end up with committed students. Committed students are ones who will go on to engage with your course – consume content, post a positive review, ask discussion questions, etc. – and even enroll in your other courses!

One thought on “Add a “Quick Win” to Your First Section”

  1. Najiba Wajiha Mahboob says:

    Very helpful article for beginners.

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