Virtual Coaching Pilot Put National U. Students Back On Track


The National University found that reaching out to at-risk students, offering virtual coaching for college planning and balancing work and school has led many students to seek help getting back on track. on track, according to the results of the pilot project released by the university last month.

Of 1,200 students on academic probation or on warning that NU contacted, the school contacted 70% of them, according to the results. Of these students, half scheduled a meeting with a coach and a third followed up after the initial session.

Thomas Stewart, UN vice-chancellor for social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion, told EdScoop that his institution, which operates more than two dozen locations in California, is trying to expand its reach to other states and better support geographically dispersed students.

Many NU students return from school after a break or come from underfunded high schools and mentoring can help support these students, Stewart said.

“The more sensitive side of the experience is helping students understand that learning is something you can learn, not something you are born with,” said Stewart.

To contact students in its pilot project, the National University used software from a company called InsideTrack, which specializes in helping universities increase enrollment and persistence rates. As part of the pilot project, InsideTrack reached out to students to offer coaching, but also worked with the National University, which caters to adult and online learners, on how to offer support services to students. in line.

InsideTrack founder Kai Drekmeier said the company, which started with in-person coaching, made the transition in 2004 to offer services online. Now InsideTrack is fully online and offers coaching via phone, SMS, email, Zoom and integrated messaging.

Coaches help students plan their college experience, including securing financial aid and overcoming any obstacles to graduation, and then following through to keep them on track, Drekmeier said. The coaches also connect students with resources on campus and in their community, like child care, to help support students personally and academically, he said.

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for holistic support for students, with the main concern of online students being balancing work and family, according to a 2021 survey by college ranking site BestColleges. The National University has launched several technologies aimed at student success, such as an AI-based writing coach to stimulate online discussions and a chatbot designed to help with retention.

“The challenge is that sometimes the students who need it most don’t have the time or take the necessary steps to access it,” said Drekmeier. “We really stand up for that, follow up and follow up, and we standardize the experience. I think it’s really important for learners to know, hey, I’m not the only one feeling that way, and it can reduce some of the anxiety and get them to take action.

Typically, coaches see the greatest effect on student success when working with students who are just starting their degree program, he said.

“The majority of our engagements focus on the first 6 to 12 months of a student’s enrollment,” said Drekmeier. “There are two reasons for this: First, during this time, we try to instill in them academic fluency, fluency with the university and a set of practices that will move them forward, so we help them to become more in addition autonomous. led and efficient students with a strong sense of agency. The second element is that once you’ve racked up a significant amount of credits you have skin in the game and a feeling that you can see the goal post, well, you can see, yes I can.

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