Student retention rate is a popular topic on campuses today. Institutions want students to complete their degrees, and many are reaching out to find new ways to keep students enrolled. One method believed to help is encouragement platforms. Many educators and experts believe that praising students; even minimally, can encourage better retention, grades, and engagement with a course. One company, Starfish Retention Solutions, has new technology that may help.
Starfish was founded in 2007 by David Yaskin. Yaskin’s digital feedback platform was designed with the intent to create a tool that helps students and faculty communicate better by raising flags in regards to a student’s performance. It warns instructors when a student is falling behind, or if their academic performance is improving. The platform has a “kudos” tool with customizable messages so faculty can send notes of praise and encouragement to students who are showing a breakthrough in their learning. It also allows instructors to automatically check in at certain points of the semester and supply updates on their roster. The idea is not to just send praise to the highest achievers, but to encourage academic success for everyone. Early research states receiving kudos from numerous professors can further increase a student’s motivation to succeed.
Starfish works with most Learning Management Systems and Student Information Systems. It will automatically gather information from the LMS or SIS and put it in a secure, easy to access location. It is highly customizable and no two instructor’s pages, notifications, or warnings will be the same. Students receive notifications through their email or LMS.
Professor Margaret Annuziata, a professor at Davidson Community College, said “Students like to get positive feedback. It doesn’t happen enough.” She later said that sometimes receiving kudos had more impact to the student than a verbal praise after class.
According to experts, the need for these feedback platforms comes from the increasing number of students entering college unprepared for the coursework. Research groups are currently conducting studies to learn whether these platforms do in fact increase graduation rates. Early reports are very promising and show great potential. The first full case study will be complete in 2015 when the first class using these platforms is scheduled to graduate.
It seems that digital feedback platforms like Starfish are here to stay. They can help reduce dropout rates, increase graduation rates, and make the flow of communication between students and faculty easier.
A study by online studying platform, StudyBlue, surveyed 1,000 students about their study habits and the effect mobile devices have had on their learning, and the top five takeaways were posted by eCampus News. With students owning an average of seven mobile devices, and spending almost four hours each day using their laptops, tablets, or smartphones, it is not surprising that studying has changed accordingly.
1.Students collaborate to improve their grades
Students can now work together by using collaborative study apps on their mobile devices, and 90% of those surveyed believed this helped improve their grades.
2.Students still cram
Students still procrastinate when it comes to studying, with nearly 60% saying they put off studying until the last minute and rarely study for small quizzes, and mobile devices help them cram. A study conducted by Wakefield Research and CourseSmart found that 53% of respondents would be more likely to complete a reading assignment in time if it were available on their mobile device, and 88% have used their mobile device to study for an exam last minute.
3.Students use both pen and paper, as well as technology
Although on average students use pen and paper during 43% of their studying time, they also use mobile devices, with laptop use accounting for 26% of studying time. Additionally, smartphones are used 14% of the time, and tablets 12% of the time.
4.Students turn idle time into study time
The flexibility and mobility of smartphones and tablets is allowing students to studying all over the place. Almost a quarter of students said they study during idle time at work or school on their smartphones. Additionally, about 20% of respondents said they use their smartphones to study while commuting, 13% while eating, 5% while exercising, and 10% even admitted to studying while in the bathroom.
5.Students still study in bed
While it has always been common for students to study or read assignments in the comfort of their bed, digital content and the Internet are now available in the palm of their hands. With this flexibility, 22% of students are now using their smartphones to read and study in bed.