Early alerts are not a novel concept and are known to be one of the most effective practices to help institutions retain and support college students. However, we are all too familiar with the limitations of these systems, which include the reliance on faculty buy in and use of lagging and symptomatic indicators (academic performance) that are rarely the core problem themselves.
In a time in which prompt interventions are more critical than ever, and students are harder to reach, SMS chatbots have proven to be the most effective way to collect data at scale on which students need additional support, earlier on.
Persistence Pulse Campaign
When combined to artificial intelligence, texting enables institutions to check-in with all students in a meaningful, yet non-intrusive way through targeted "persistence pulse checks". These can take place as soon as students start the semester, or even earlier, allowing students to self-report any hurdles they are facing before they escalate to the point of becoming noticeable to faculty and staff.
Example Chatbot Conversation
Here's an example of how the chatbot may conduct a persistence pulse campaign:
As seen above, the chatbot (in this case named after the mascot) is engaging in two-way conversations with all students at once. In a matter of seconds, the AI-powered bot is able to gauge exactly which students need additional support and why, connect those students to resources, and flag them to University staff. The SMS bot is doing all of this groundwork and no human resources are being utilized for the outreach. This allows staff members to focus on more "high impact" conversations that are targeted and well-informed. On the flip side, students are being met where they are. The proactive nature of the bot makes it effortless for them to share how things are going, and the automated nature of the chatbot creates a safe, judgment-free zone in which students feel comfortable opening up.
Efficacy of AI Texting
Below is an example of how SMS chatbots can help support students with timelier, more targeted interventions.
Oftentimes it is the most vulnerable students who are hesitant to ask for help. Raising a hand, emailing an advisor, stopping by a counseling center - these are all proactive behaviors that rarely come natural to the students who would benefit from help the most. For this reason, AI chatbot have become a powerful communication tool that can help institutions engage students and collect critical data before challenges escalate and start exhibiting symptoms in the classroom.
Found this interesting? Read more about how chatbots are changing the game for college retention.