The whole student experience has evolved to include a number of important areas that institutions must track in order to help students reach academic goals

5 ways to improve the student experience

The whole student experience includes five dimensions, and institutions should pay careful attention to each one

A study from EDUCAUSE offers insight into how to support key aspects of the whole student experience as institutions strive to support student success.

The study presents important results from EDUCAUSE’s 2020 research on students’ experience with information technology, which included 16,162 undergraduate students from 71 US institutions. In addition to exploring key aspects of the whole student experience, the authors offer recommendations for institution leaders.

Student success has become a focus area for EDUCAUSE, and the needs of the whole student have prompted the organization to examine the fact that “learning has as much to do with socioemotional, physical, and financial factors as it does with intellectual skills.”

The whole student experience includes five dimensions: student success, technology use and environment preferences, student data privacy, online harassment, and accessibility and accommodations.

Student success

While the most common measure of undergraduate student success is completing a degree, most students define success in other ways.

Undergrad students feel supported by their institutions through access to advisors and helpful advising technologies.

Still, many students don’t know if they have online student success tools available to them.

Students who receive early alerts and nudges do act on them, and most students receiving these prompts find them useful, but alerts and nudges tend to focus on negatives and aren’t often used to congratulate students on their accomplishments or positive achievements.

Technology use and environmental preferences

Most students connect at least two devices to campus wi-fi in a given day, and about 75 percent of students who do connect to campus wi-fi connect both a smartphone and a laptop.

Students do seem to prefer face-to-face learning environments, with most preferring to learn completely or mostly face-to-face.

Faculty continue to use technology during class to enhance learning, but less than half of students report being encouraged to use their own technology during class to deepen their learning.

Student data privacy

Most students feel fine with institutional use of personal data to help them reach academic goals, but many are still skeptical of analytics tools that use their personal data for the benefit of others.

Students don’t always understand just how their institution uses personal data, however, and this can undermine their trust in that use and their confidence in how their institution is protecting data.

Online harassment

The majority of students haven’t experienced online harassment, but ethnic minority students and female students usually experience more harmful forms of online harassment, and more often, than their peers.

Students are more likely to address online harassment on their own than report it to their institution.

What’s more, it looks like universities could do a better job of handling online harassment–most students are either dissatisfied or just neutral when asked to characterize their view of the actions their institution took to address online harassment.

Accessibility and accommodations

Almost half of students with disabilities do not register with their institution’s disability services office for support, and one in three students with disabilities do not have positive views of how their institution supports their need for accessible content and/or technology accommodations.

Mental health disorders and learning disabilities are the most commonly-reported disabilities, and female students are more likely to report having a mental health disorder than male students.

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Laura Ascione

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