Research involving a Georgia State University course using a chatbot to keep students connected showed improved grades and retention rates.

Chatbot boosts student performance at Georgia State


Research involving a Georgia State University course using a chatbot to keep students connected showed improved grades and retention rates

Editor’s note: This news release originally appeared on the Georgia State site.

Georgia State’s pioneering, artificial intelligence-enhanced chatbot “Pounce” is well established as an institutional tool for helping incoming students navigate the thorny world of finances, registration and just getting started in college. Now, Georgia State is showing student performance jumps when classes employ the chatbot to keep them connected.

Receiving direct text messages about their class assignments, academic supports and course content increased the likelihood students would earn a B or higher and, for first-generation students, increased their likelihood of passing the class. First-generation students receiving the messages earned final grades about 11 points higher than their peers.

“Eleven points is more than a full letter grade, and a full letter grade can be the difference between students holding onto their HOPE Scholarship and Pell Grant awards or not,” said Timothy M.  Renick, the founding executive director of the National Institute for Student Success at Georgia State. “These are exceptional results from a fairly light-touch initiative.”

An AI-enhanced text messaging tool in use at Georgia State since spring 2016, the institution-level Pounce chatbot is just one of myriad efforts by the university to support students as they progress through college. Georgia State’s student success efforts have made it a national leader in graduating students from diverse backgrounds and reduced the average time it takes to earn a degree by almost a full semester.

In 2021, the chatbot was integrated for the first time into course content. A group of 500 students in one of Georgia State’s largest courses — political science 1101 — was selected to participate in a randomized controlled trial led by Lindsay Page, the Annenberg Associate Professor of Education Policy at Brown University. Half of the students were selected to receive messages related to the class from the chatbot, and half did not receive the messages.

Laura Ascione