Last week we dove into how one of our partners leverages data from our Satisfaction Check to identify students who may not be completely satisfied with the institution. As we discussed, satisfaction is one of the sub-drivers of risk that EdSights measures under engagement with this university. By asking these questions hundreds of thousands of times and looking at student outcomes for respondents, our machine learning model identifies satisfaction with the institution as one of the most reliable predictors of persistence.
This week, we had the opportunity to look closely at data from our friends at Jacksonville University. Recently, Dr. Will Miller, Executive Director of Institutional Analytics, Effectiveness, and Strategic Planning, joined our discussion about The Student Persistence Study. During the conversation he shared the challenges institutions face relying on traditional methods of predicting student persistence alone. By leveraging real-time data, collected from students directly, JU is able to take a much more direct approach to interventions and create a positive cultural impact on campus.
Dr. Miller Discusses “Nellie”, Jacksonville University’s AI Chatbot
JU has seen great engagement with Nellie since introducing the bot to their campus, including a 98% opt-in rate across all cohorts (undergraduate and graduate). Nellie fulfills a desire for the campus community to remain informed and feel included in the community … something that no other traditional measure of retention and persistence can accomplish.
Addressing Campus Concerns
One of Dr. Miller’s concerns, which were shared by members of the community, was understanding how students would respond to, embrace, and interact with an AI chatbot. For many students, Nellie became a diary or a confidant that they could turn to for help and resources; particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. What JU learned is that it is easier for students to text a bot for help than to walk into the office and speak to a human. For students, Nellie “is a safe judgment free space”. For JU, these interactions help with gathering continuous insight into the student perspective on their campus.
Key Insights That AI Provides JU
Not only does Nellie provide consistent contact with students. The AI chatbot also provides meaningful and actionable insights that drive action at JU. With Nellie, JU is able to understand a few key data points that traditional methods alone would not provide in a meaningful way. For example, this past year, JU found that Psychology Majors tended to have a lower sense of belonging and were less satisfied at the institution; while English majors, on average, demonstrated lower morale. These insights enable the team at JU to be proactive in their outreach to students as well as include the appropriate members of the campus community in addressing these challenges.
The team at JU understands that real-time aggregate trends across the EdSights platform are oftentimes an early warning. By tracking unique cohorts, JU was able to identify student populations whom they noticed were reporting issues with wellness and lifestyle. By putting a spotlight on these groups, the staff is able to prioritize and tailor outreach based on their involvement in specific campus organizations and match students with the resources they need for support.
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Solving the college completion crisis.
Institutions who partner with EdSights between now and August 1, 2022 have the opportunity to join the largest scale persistence study in history. The goal is to uncover new trends and insights around the factors driving completion across the nation, and provide participants with real-time insights on their specific students.
On top of providing participants with key insights for their campus and national benchmarks, students enrolled at participating institutions will benefit from our AI persistence framework that connects them to personalized resources over SMS.
With the study’s findings, we will release a new annual report to serve as the nation’s first benchmark for student persistence and retention. The report will be released next fall at our inaugural client summit.
For institutions who are in the early stages of their persistence strategic planning, or for those looking to enhance their current efforts, we hope the study will provide a data driven foundation fueled by the voices and experiences of their students.