What software exists to help with the retention of students?
We run down our top tech picks for greater student engagement and retention.4 min read Published: 15 Mar 2023
There are many reasons why retaining students is beneficial. It’s financially favorable for higher institutions, as well as a clear way for them to signal success. And staying in college helps students to develop, boosts their long-term career prospects and increases their earning capacity.
And with retention rates in the US slightly down on pre-pandemic levels, there is a clear opportunity for improvement here. We’ve written before about some of the methods and tactics you can employ to improve general student retention rates, as well as for online students specifically. In this article we’re going to look at the student success and retention software that is available to help you do just that.
Blackboard is a learning management system. It acts as a virtual learning environment and a central hub where students can access course materials, reading lists, assignments, tests and other relevant content and resources.
It sounds practical, but how exactly does it operate as student retention software? Blackboard has an automatic and customisable Retention Center that highlights which students are at risk. It uses default rules like grades and missed deadlines, along with student engagement and participation to determine which members of each course cohort are struggling.
Not only does it flag up at risk students, but it provides insight into specific areas they are struggling with so you can contact them or monitor further. It’s also customizable, you can choose to add in your own rules for flagging up at risk students. For example, you can add individual grade rules that notify you when students score below a certain amount. Or you could create a rule to notify you which students are in the top 5% of the class, which could inform decisions such as choosing student mentors.
Turning lectures into an immersive learning experience, Kahoot! brings the power of gamification to the higher education sector. This approach works effectively to keep all students active and participating, even in large lecture halls.
You can use this software to turn lecture content into quizzes and puzzles as well as offer quick engagement wins, such as polls. This helps to consolidate learning and encourage discussion.
The software also allows you to gain insight into your class, which can in turn help retention. For example in the Reports section, instructors can log in to see how many students played and which questions were the most difficult, which can be useful with remote students. More specifically, instructors can drill down and find out which students may need help based on their results, or lack of participation.
Becoming overwhelmed with stress is a common reason for students leaving college. Research found 76% of bachelor’s degree students who considered dropping out during the last six months listed emotional stress as their main reason.
A mental health based app could be a useful way to improve overall wellbeing and foster resilience in the face of stress, consequently improving retention rates. The Calm App aims to improve wellbeing through meditations, soundscapes, sleep stories and more. And they've got the research to back it up.
A trial of 88 self-reported 'stressed' college students found that the meditations in Calm reduced stress while improving mindfulness and self compassion. The app now has a dedicated College Collection specifically formulated to help stressed out higher education students, though the whole app library would likely be useful too.
Glean is designed to make effective classroom learning easier. But how does it impact student retention?
We found 76% of students using Glean said it helped them improve their grades, in just one semester. By giving students the ability to record full lectures, highlight key moments and add instant screenshots of online content, they are better equipped to study the material they learn in class.
Glean allows students to go at their own place and engage with the content in their own way. Perhaps reading back a transcript is how they learn best, or maybe adding text notes while listening back to audio works better.
Along with boosting grades, increasing confidence and reducing stress - all of which contribute towards better retention rates - Glean also allows instructors to access individual usage history, which makes supporting the right students easier and more targeted.
One simple and cost effective method to increase student retention that we’ve written about before is to frequently poll or survey students. This regular insight enables you to spot any issues quickly, which means they can also be resolved promptly before they escalate into more complex problems.
Survey Monkey offers survey software and even comes with education survey templates ready for you to use right away. Each template is customisable or you could start your own from scratch. The available templates include instructor evaluation, bullying, student satisfaction, faculty satisfaction and a parent survey.
Social media management
In a previous article on retaining online students we looked at the cost of social isolation among students. One student retention strategy suggested was to utilize social media to create college communities. Managing multiple social media accounts can prove difficult and time consuming, which is where a social media management app can be useful. It offers one interface from which you can schedule and monitor all social media accounts from.
Sprout Social is a popular option with higher education institutions. One way it sets itself apart from other social media management tools is with its customer relationship management function. There is also a useful report generation feature, which means you no longer have to collate information from each app, which can save a lot of time.
A wealth of support
Hopefully if you arrived here wondering what software exists to help retain students, you’ve now got a better idea of the scope of technology available to help. The current landscape of student retention offers an exciting opportunity for institutions to capitalize on. Just boosting your university's retention rate by a few percent could make all the difference.
Fortunately there is a wealth of software available to help you manage that goal. From learning management systems like Blackboard to gamification technology that boosts engagement like Kahoot!, there are plenty of ways you can measure students at risk of dropping out and plan an early intervention.
Being unable to cope with the demands of university life can often factor into a student's decisions to leave before graduating, which is where an evidence-based mental health app like Calm could help. You could also help students to better manage stress through equipping them with practical, useful tools such as our note taking platform, Glean, which boosts grades, increases confidence and reduces stress.
Keeping a finger on the pulse of the student mood is another way to spot any issues promptly and ensure they are dealt with swiftly and efficiently. Survey Monkey offers a range of ready to use education templates so getting started is easy.
And lastly, social media plays an important role in reducing social isolation among online students. You can better manage your institutions' various accounts and communities by investing in a social media management tool like Sprout Social.
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