Helping Students Succeed .. How Data Changed the Undergraduate Experience | technology

Many universities and colleges rely on apps and analytics to attract students and propel them into their careers after graduation, and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an urgent need to use analytics as a tool for universities to help students to support outside the classroom.

In an article published in the American Wall Street Journal, Beth DiCarpo said that an AI-enhanced chatbot called BOUNCE was hired to take the place of officials at Georgia State University. Where the virtual version of it was offered to new students in the summer of 2016.

Students could submit questions to BOUNCE 24/7 and get answers about student financial aid, enrollment, housing, admissions and academic advising; And all this in just seconds.

After 3 years, the experiment was generalized to all students, but with broader capabilities, such as intervening when a robot finds that a student is at risk of failing class or dropping out of school.

By using predictive analytics, risk factors can be identified early, rather than waiting for students to find solutions on their own, said Timothy M. Renick, executive director of the National Institute for Student Success in Georgia in Atlanta.

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The author noted that Georgia has been at the forefront of ramping up their use of apps and analytics by colleges to help attract and guide students through graduation and launching their careers. .

According to the author, Naspa, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that held student affairs across America at the first Virtual Innovation Awards ceremony, last year thanked colleges from across the country for their outstanding efforts designed to help students during the pandemic. and beyond.

San Diego State University was one of the award winners; The university extracts its data to identify students who have not registered for the fall semester by March or April, an early warning sign of the danger of dropping out. Teams of university staff and mentors then contact these students.

They discovered early in the pandemic that access to computers and a stable Internet connection were common obstacles these distance learning students faced. To counter this, the university distributed hundreds of laptops and internet signal boosters.

These digital initiatives are meant to support all students, but are best for blacks, Latinos, and indigenous people (Shutterstock)

The author mentioned that colleges use artificial intelligence in certain tasks; As:

  • Complete or nearly complete use in the performance of tasks and functions.
  • Partial use in some work roles such as planning, experimentation and initial use.

The university also used chatbots and digital assistants to support student success, identify students at academic risk, send academic early warnings, and adjust instructions and processing based on student interactions and performance. It can also identify students with non-academic difficulties.

According to the author, many schools are still late in adopting this technology; An estimated 20-25% of higher education institutions do not have data analytics applications, due to factors such as budget constraints or lack of buy-in from faculty and staff.

However, the rise of the pandemic has accelerated the use of analytics as a tool to enable schools to extend their support to students beyond the classroom.

For example, the Georgia chatbot is configured to recognize “keywords” and deliver the student’s message immediately to someone experienced in crisis management, such as when a student talks to the chatbot about depression or suicide and after receiving a supportive chat message received, she responds The sophomore from Georgia said, “It was especially stressful with my deteriorating mental health and unwillingness to live.”

Within minutes, a faculty member followed up with the student and referred her to advisors on campus, in addition to her academic advisor.

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The author reported that students who received chatbot messages were more likely to get a grade of “excellent” or “very good” than those who did not, the university found. The first-generation students who received the letters also have a final score of about 11 points higher than similar students who did not receive the letters.

The author goes on to show that for the next stage of data analysis, some schools are exploring or implementing advanced machine learning applications that can analyze 150 or more student characteristics by referencing historical data archives; Understanding these different characteristics and how they relate to student outcomes allows schools to provide individualized support based on student needs.

All of these data analyzes raise concerns about student privacy and data breaches. In a survey of more than 16,000 university students in 71 US institutions, 49% of respondents agreed with the statement: “I trust my organization to use my personal data ethically and responsibly.” While 17% were opposed, and almost half said they did not understand how their personal data was used.

Most universities and colleges offer applications that allow students to access data such as academic status (Reuters)

How has the pandemic changed the methods of universities?

Covid-19 has prompted many colleges and universities to rely on online education and remote work in light of the spread of the epidemic, as work has been done to help students achieve their goals efficiently and easily and succeed achieved, without it being necessary. for contact and contact, according to a report by “Edukoz” website (educause).

Having technologies and analytics is an advanced and promising step if provided to students, faculty, and staff, enabling secure access to information and requirements, as most universities and colleges provide applications that allow students to access access to data such as academic status, materials, and others.

On the other hand, students at universities that do not provide such access struggle to keep track of themselves and progress compared to those with these technologies, and faculty and staff may not have adequate training or even access to use technology to help students not to grant.

Students sometimes experience academic or even personal difficulties, as COVID-19 has turned life upside down and made life more difficult, making it more likely that large numbers of students will need extra help; In the past decade, apps and technologies that help identify and support at-risk students have become useful and more widespread, positively impacting students.

Most universities have effective systems in place for early identification of academic problems and for providing assistance to students, faculty and advisors in dealing with those problems.

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