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Student Success Efforts at Winston-Salem State U Boost Learning Outcomes

college student working on laptop

Several years ago, Winston-Salem State University put a big emphasis on student success through a revamp of its student success services, including addition of a "quantitative skills center" to provide support on math, science, business and social sciences; supplemental instruction that offered out-of-class study review sessions for courses that are historically difficult for students; and an online service that gives students free access to tutors 24 hours a day.

Now the university has gone public with the overall results of the impact of those initiatives: Students' writing grades have improved by 20 percent and math grades by 10 percent.

For the tutoring specifically, Winston-Salem contracted with Upswing, whose TutorUp program connects students with academic coaches in real time, to extend the reach of the university's own support services. TutorUp was implemented in early 2017.

The service allows students to search for coaches by subject or class and ratings and reviews, then request an immediate session or schedule something for later. Students receive alert reminders about their upcoming sessions and interact with the tutor via audio, video, chat and digital whiteboard.

"We've seen literal improvement in GPAs, especially with our sports teams who engage with the service primarily through our study hall program," said Derick Virgil, associate dean of academic services and assessment, in a statement. "Our partnership with Upswing has been a win-win for the university in many ways. We've seen a direct increase in student success markers like GPAs since gaining the platform, and we're expecting to see indirect increases in retention and graduation as a result of using Upswing."

Virgil noted that students' ease of interaction with the service — and the fact that the cost isn't passed onto them — have been major draws.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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