Most Schools Offer Tutoring and Other Support Services. Here's a few Ideas for Taking Them up a Level.
Student attrition accounts for $40 billion of lost tuition, according to research conducted by the Economic Policy Institute and recently confirmed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Negative perceptions of the college experience account for 80% of dropouts, more than financial and personal issues combined. This reason was described as a feeling that the student “wasn't supported” and that “no one cared what happened to them”.
Education technology is creating new ways to increase higher education retention. In a recent webinar presented by Upswing, a company focused on retention, the key to leveraging technology to combat the dropout rate is connecting with students, especially those in their first year.
Here are 5 ways to increase retention through student engagement:
1. Give your students a sense of choice when seeking support.
It’s amazing that simply giving someone freedom to choose can really impact their way of thinking.
Dan Ariely, a widely recognized Duke University behavioral psychologist, calls this the “Endowment Effect”. Essentially, students — just like the rest of us — tend to HIGHLY value the choice they make, as opposed to the one that is assigned to them. This is why Upswing provides students with the ability to select the specific coach they will interact with during each session. Students can see up front who they are going to be meeting with and schedule additional sessions with the same coach, if they would like.
2. Learn about your students' interests to find mentors they can relate to.
Through research we have conducted with Upswing usage data, we have seen firsthand that students select coaches based upon a specific affinity for that coach: Females are more likely to select females, and minorities tend to select similar minorities. All other things equal, people value a connection to their coach as much as, and maybe more than, their credentials.
These are not the only ways to create connections, but there is tremendous value in learning a bit more about the students (is she a single mom? what is his favorite show?) and finding instructors who can relate to them along the same lines.
3. Offer flexible hours and availability for academic support.
While traditional tutoring centers provide a ton of benefit to many students, getting to the center is usually most difficult for at-risk students. These are the ones who must balance work schedules and family life with being a student, and need additional flexibility to match their commitments. Schools in rural areas find it difficult to recruit and retain enough high quality tutors because of distance from cities.
We have found that the majority of all Upswing tutoring sessions occur after 8:00pm, after traditional tutoring/advising centers are closed. Thanks to technology, offering late night services to students does not need to break the bank. This service allows schools to have tutors connect online only when they are needed, and from anywhere in the world. This keeps costs down and allows students the flexibility they need.
4. Utilize peer tutors to make double the impact.
The most important thing to work on with coaches is how to inspire the students they work with. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it actually takes a concerted effort to think about that as part of the tutoring process. We want students to not only feel confident about doing their homework, but also feel confident about why they chose to attend college in the first place.
But why would peer tutoring have such a major benefit?
A recent study that followed several dozen students over the course of a semester showed that students who worked with peers were better able to understand how fellow students got to knowing their answers: a process known as “metacognitive regulation”. More colloquially, this pairing helped students understand where others struggling “were coming from.”
Once again, online technology increases the ability to lean on these types of offerings. Upswing, for instance, allows colleges to use peer tutors so that they can connect with fellow students at any time of the day or night. This also helps with the flexible hours that some students need.
5. Continuously collect and analyze feedback.
Collecting feedback and data is one of the most difficult things for college student support centers to engage in, mostly because it is hard to know where to begin. But it also doesn’t help that students always seem too busy to help with that process. Combine this with an already overworked staff and lack of immediate benefit, and it is easy to see why this is something that gets placed on the backburner.
One of the key data points that we collect is student feedback on the quality of the session completed with every coach. This allows us to assess the effectiveness of each and every coach. It's key to let the student feel like their voice is being heard, and an anonymous outlet for providing feedback is not only a great way to allow students to speak up, but also helps us improve the overall quality of the coaches on Upswing.
Using these tips will help make the most of technology in higher ed retention strategies, especially through engaging with students. To watch the full webinar, click here.
Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Can Social Media Play A Role in Improving Retention in Higher Education? Research Says it Can.
8 Engaging Ways to use Technology in the Classroom to Create Lessons That Aren’t Boring