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Identifying the Students Who Need You Most

It’s a critical point in the semester. Spring break is either underway or quickly approaching and, once students return to campus, the push to the end of the semester will begin. Study groups. Long nights. Extra tutoring. Time in the library.

But what about those who are missing support, who feel that they don’t have a support system in place? Do you know who those students are? Do you have mechanisms in place to get them the support they need now? These questions matter because student perceptions matter and, as research shows, are the single biggest driver of persistence.

Data Collection Methodology: Instantly Identify At-Risk Students

Before sharing some key findings around students' perceived support system we wanted to provide context on the methodology through which EdSights collected the information presented below.

At EdSights, we work with our campus partners to implement evidence-based temperature checks at both key points in the semester and as follow-ups based on student’s previous responses. These temperature checks are delivered using text messaging and artificial intelligence - picture a student success focused Chat GPT, but over SMS. Unlike the data collected through traditional surveys, our Adaptive AI Framework is continuously engaging with students and, as issues arise, connecting them to the best resources at the best time.

As we collect student responses across all of our partners, the AI is able to learn about each student's needs and personalize the outreach and resources for each individual. Simultaneously, we are able to provide real-time student insights to colleges giving them visibility into student perceptions and potential barriers. That’s the power of Adaptive AI.

The Data: A Critical Temperature Check

As we look at the data from our most recent check-in, we are able to glean significant takeaways in terms of what challenges students are reporting. Below is a redacted version of the proactive check-in delivered to students via text message.

"{{student.first_name}} - I want to make sure you have a strong support system at school 💪"

"If you have an issue, do you have someone to reach out to at {{school.nickname}}?" [1] Yes, I do 💯 [2] Sometimes 😐 [3] No, nobody 🥺

Only 60% of the ~2,000 students in this data set reported knowing who to turn to for help at their institution.

While there may be plenty of staff members available to support students, what matters is that almost half of students don't perceive that to be the case. While this perception may not portray an accurate depiction of reality, it is the perception that matters most.

Much of Dr. Tinto's persistence research points in this direction: perceptions impact a student's motivation to persist. All things equal, a student whose perceptions are more positive will be more likely to persist during challenging times. While higher education may not be able to address all the barriers affecting persistence, they do have the ability to impact student perceptions. In order to do so, however, they must first understand them.

Prioritize Your Efforts

We recognize that students face many challenges as they pursue higher education. We also, however, subscribe to the ongoing research conducted by Dr. Vincent Tinto. We know that the key areas driving student persistence are:

  • Sense of belonging

  • Academics

  • Financial wellness

  • Mental health and wellbeing

By knowing the key issues students are facing, and specifically why students feel that they don’t belong or that they’re missing a support system, you can begin to prioritize your outreach efforts and hone in on the specific needs of each student.

Take the Next Steps

Ultimately, colleges and universities need a solution that captures the student voice, provides real-time interventions and responses, and continues the conversation by checking in with the student at key points throughout the year. We can no longer rely on early warning systems and predictive models that look at data "about the student".. it's time to shift our focus to data "from the student" directly.

If you’d like more information on what this could look like on your campus - how you could quickly engage students using Adaptive AI to capture the student voice - we’re ready to help and you can learn more here.



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