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Student Success

Winston-Salem State U Focuses on Writing and Research Skills to Improve Persistence

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In an effort to improve persistence among first-year students, Winston-Salem State University is tapping education tools from Upswing to boost students' writing and research skills.

Students at the public historically black university in North Carolina can access 24/7 online tutoring with Upswing's tutors or schedule in-person sessions with a university staff member for help. They can also take lessons through Upswing's Writing Lab, which provides videos and other resources on topics such as the writing process, pre-writing and drafting. Writing Lab lessons can be taken and reviewed repeatedly, as often as students want.

"A number of our students have very hectic schedules and cannot always make it to a traditional face-to-face tutoring session, noted Stephanie T. Dance-Barnes, associate provost and dean at Winston Salem State University, in a statement. "Upswing makes it possible for students to get academic support at their convenience."

The university has reported a number of results from its first year of using Upswing:

  • WSSU students using Upswing are 36 percent more likely to persist than students not using the tools;
  • Students using Upswing have shown a statistically higher average term GPA; and
  • Students in Developmental Writing courses are 20 percent more likely to persist when using the Upswing Writing Lab, compared to those who did not.

"As we work to be more intentional about how we are supporting our non-traditional student population, Upswing plays a major part in how we can extend the reach of our academic support services," said Dance-Barnes. "The accessibility of Upswing data related to student usage and performance allows us to better gauge student success and improve upon retention efforts."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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