Self-regulation: More than a Grade and GPA

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Students are entering college while lacking the necessary skills for a successful academic career. How do I know this? Universities can hardly graduate half of their freshman class within 6 years. Academic support services are on the frontline, fighting against student attrition. The research shows that students who incorporate academic support services into their daily learning strategies improve their academic standing by a full letter grade. Yet, students wait until they are in complete academic peril before seeking help. Student attrition is not a knowledge or GPA problem. The behaviors and decisions leading to poor outcomes is fundamentally the problem. To truly increase an institution’s retention rate, at-risk students must change their poor academic behavior.

In recent decades, more and more scholars focus on self-regulation skills in their education researches. In Handbook of Self-regulation, Zimmerman (1999) defined self-regulation as self-generated thoughts, feelings, and actions that are planned and cyclically adapted to the attainment of personal goals (p. 14). Further, Zimmerman (1999) emphasizes that self-regulation is dynamic process. In other words, self-regulation skills not only simply connected with personal traits and abilities, but also one’s beliefs and motivations. Based on the self-regulation theory, many educators realized the importance of teaching self-regulation skills in classroom. In the year of 1986, Weinstein and Mayer developed the model of strategic learning where self-regulation is considered as an important component in strategies teaching. According to the model, self-regulation includes skills of time management, concentration, systematic approaches to learning and accomplishing, coping with academic stress, managing motivation for learning and achievement.

Many scholars point out that self-regulation skills play a crucial role in academic learning. For example, Wolters (1999) concludes that self-regulation learning strategies has positive impact on high school students’ cognitive engagement, effort as well as classroom performance. In the context of high education institutions, it is also widely accepted that self-regulation skills could predict higher GPA and lack of self-regulation results in bad academic performance as well as high retention. In Hunt et al’s five-year study (2012), the senior students in a public university self-report in the survey that the barriers in achieving high GPA largely account for their withdrawal. Further, most of the barriers are in the domain of self-regulation such as poor study habits and time management skills, lack of interest in course work, and anxiety of academic learning.

To lower college attrition rate, StudyTree is dedicated to build students’ self-regulation skills. For example, with the help of StudyTree’s academic data integration, students will be able to develop learning plans based on their previous performance and self-evaluation. By integrating student-centered learning strategies such as Jigsaw study groups and peer tutoring, StudyTree increases students’ participation and ultimately their learning motivation. Further, StudyTree lowers students’ academic anxiety by providing struggle students with various resources including institutional learning resource, outside consumer learning tools and learning strategy workshops. In conclusion, StudyTree emphasizes learning-to-learn skills which facilitates college students to become life-time learners rather than simply improving their academic grades.

References
Boekaerts, M., Pintrich, P. R., & Zeidner, M. (Eds.). (1999). Handbook of self-regulation. San Diego: Academic Press.

Hunt, P. F., Boyd, V. S., Gast, L. K., Mitchell, A., & Wilson, W. (2012). Why some students leave college during their senior year. Journal of College Student Development, 53(5), 737-742.

Weinstein, C. E., & Mayer, R. E. (1986). The Teaching of Learning Strategies. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (3rd ed., pp. 315-327). New York: Macmllian.

Wolters, C. A. (1999). The relation between high school students’ motivational regulation and their use of learning strategies, effort, and classroom performance. Learning and individual differences, 11(3), 281-299.

By: Xueye Yan & Ethan Keiser

Learning-to-Learn: Bring Jigsaw into Academic Life

Teacher and students b/wJigsaw learning is considered as one of the most effective learning techniques in today’s university classrooms. Students report to have deeper understanding of various topics through information exchange in Jigsaw learning. In a Jigsaw learning activity, students are divided into groups at the very beginning. Then, the students will be asked to leave their original groups and join topic groups. Within topic groups, the students create discussion on different subtopics of a certain topic. At the end of the activity, the students return to their original groups and pass each other their discussion of subtopics. Through learning from peers, the students in the groups will be able to form comprehensive understanding of the certain topic.

As a graduate student studying Second Language teaching, I am quite familiar with Jigsaw task in language classes. According to Pica, Kanagy and Falodun (1993), Jigsaw task was more likely to generate opportunities for students to use target languages than traditional language learning methods. When I worked as a language teacher in an adult English as Second Language class, I once developed a Jigsaw reading activity based on an story-telling article. Through my classroom observation, I have noticed that many students who used to be shy became more talkative in Jigsaw group discussion. Therefore, I firmly believe that Jigsaw task contributes to a more communicative rather than an instructor-orientated class.

In fact, Jigsaw learning is not limited to second language learning. Many studies suggest that Jigsaw learning are effective learning method in various disciplines. In 2010, Doymus, Karacop and Simsek concluded that Jigsaw cooperative learning has positive effect on students’ conceptual understanding of electrochemistry after tracing first-year undergraduate students’ grades in general chemistry course. Similar conclusions is drawn by Slish (2005) after he compared student performance in biology tests based on whether they are in Jigsaw learning group or passive learning group. In addition to facilitating students’ conceptual understanding, Jigsaw learning helps establish a supportive learning environment which brings students positive learning experience. Further, such positive learning experience also intensifies students’ learning motivation. In his study (2007), Gomleksiz examines the effect of Jigsaw learning in Turkish engineering students’ English language class. The attitude scale of students in Jigsaw study group indicated that the cooperative learning experience had motivated engineering students in English learning .

Due to the positive effect of Jigsaw learning on students’ performance, StudyTree considers Jigsaw Study Group as an important support in our academic support system. In order to prepare at-risk students for exams, StudyTree groups students based on their self-evaluation. Within Jigsaw Study Group, each student prepares topics they are strong at and lead group discussions on these topics. By allowing students to play both roles of tutors and learners, StudyTree not only motivate students in academic learning but also help building a student-centered learning community.

References

Doymus, K., Karacop, A., & Simsek, U. (2010). Effects of jigsaw and animation techniques on students’ understanding of concepts and subjects in electrochemistry. Educational Technology Research and Development, 58(6), 671-691.

Gomleksiz, N. (2007). Effectiveness of cooperative learning (jigsaw II) method in teaching English as a foreign language to engineering students (Case of Firat University, Turkey). European journal of engineering education, 32(5), 613-625.

Pica, T., Kanagy, R., & Falodun, J. (1993). Choosing and using communication tasks for second language instruction and research. In G. Crookes, & S. M. Gass (Eds.), Tasks and Language Learning: Integrating Theory and Practice (pp. 3-34). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Slish, D. F. (2005). Assessment of the Use of the Jigsaw Method and Active Learning in Non-Majors, Introductory Biology. Bioscene: Journal of College Biology Teaching, 31(4), 4-10.

By: Xueye Yan

 

Why only have a Smart Board when you can have a Smart School?

The 21st Century holds some of the most innovative technology. Self-driving cars. Online platforms that connect millions of people. Supercomputers that can fit in your pockets. Even students have the newest face recognition and artificial intelligence technology on their iPhone apps.

With all the innovation in technology, why are schools still believing that their years old Smart Board technology puts them on the cutting edge? Is the higher education sector satisfied with inefficiency, lower quality, and higher costs? We don’t think so.

At StudyTree, we believe it’s time for an upgrade. It’s time to move from the Smart Board to the Smart School and let technology do work for you. Here are three ways a Smart School can instantly make your institution the leader in innovation.

1. Learn how your students learn

With artificial intelligence, your school can analyze thousands of students and how each one of them uses your school’s resources. What are the best practices that top students do before their exams? What study tools should a B student use to get an A on the test? Artificial intelligence combines psychology, computer science, and statistics to give your school the edge.

2. Dynamic Scheduling

Predictive computational technology can learn the habits of students and propose schedules that work for them. Have a student-athlete? Not a problem. Dynamic scheduling can look at past athletes and determine what schedule has led to the greatest student-athlete success. Involved in many clubs? Dynamic scheduling can match your schedule with those of faculty in order to make sure students can essential office hours while making sure they can contribute to campus.

3. Student Grades and Retention

While it’s impossible for an administrator to find patterns in millions of data points, it’s very possible for a computer to do the same. Recent advances in pattern finding mean that your school can now detect amazing occurrences, like when during a lecture do students peak in interest or boredom? What methods should faculty use to regain student engagement? What concepts should TA’s go over in recitation based on data from the lecture? These questions can save hours of work from faculty and administrators all while driving down costs and increasing efficiency. Over the past decades, schools have moved from blackboards to whiteboards to Smart Boards. It’s now time for the Smart School, an immersive, data-driven institution that can bring your school to the next level. These few tips demonstrate how artificial intelligence can upgrade your school. Use technology to help your institution. Enter into the 21st Century.

By: Sohum Daftary

How Artificial Intelligence and Strategic Informatics Will Revolutionize Higher Education

1. What is Artificial Intelligence?

What is better than computers making tediously manual work exponentially easier? Well, not that much… Simply put, artificial intelligence—commonly known as AI – attempts to fulfill the basic tasks, by means of computers, that previously could only be conducted by monotonous human intelligence. For instance, tasks such as composing informational schematics based on the compilation of a college or university class’s exam scores could now be accurately and beautifully created by our intuitive AI platform. This is just one of the many ways that StudyTree is truly revolutionizing the higher educational platform.

2. Predictive Analysis

Have you ever wondered how much you would have to study for a subject in order to perform well on an exam. Wonder no more. StudyTree’s growing AI platform is incorporating some really cutting-edge features such as predictive grade analysis that will allow both students and professors alike to prepare efficiently for exams. Based on previous academic results and trends, StudyTree’s AI platform will be able to strategically forecast exam results and provide insights into to most impactful ways of exam preparation.

3. Preparatory Organization

Imagine… You’re sitting at your dorm room desk cracking open your textbook in preparation for the following week’s looming exam. As you tediously flip page by page through textbook sections and class notes, you may begin asking yourself, “There has got to be a more efficient way of studying this information.” Well now there its a more efficient way. Not only will StudyTree’s AI platform be intuitive enough to predict exam scores, but it can also use a wide variety of grading variables and established informatics to organize your weekly schedule will a customizable list of advantageous study activities. For instance, Monday will be a self-study day; Tuesday will be a group-
study session; Wednesday, a one-on-one tutoring day; a meeting with your professors office hour slot on Thursday; and finally, on Friday, the exam. StudyTree’s AI platform will be able to strategically and comprehensively predict a students exam score as he or she attends or misses each study activity to allow the student to feel comfortable and prepared for his or her next exam.

4. Collaborative Learning

One of StudyTree’s main focuses is to foster relationships within the higher educational community. We firmly believe that, through academic and social collaboration, amazing things can be accomplished. This is why StudyTree’s AI platform will be directly geared toward enhancing the college and university learning environment through synergetic teamwork. By allowing students to introduce their schedule into the AI platform, a strategically planned study program will be provided along with a predictive grade analysis. The majority of study strategies included in the study plan will involve aspects of collaborative education such as group study sessions, one-on-one tutoring meetings, and appointment with professors. No longer will you have to feel alone in the studying process, because now, there’s StudyTree.

5. Guaranteed Results

How are both diligent and dedicated students and teachers similar? They both love homework? Well, maybe… but generally, both good students and teachers strive for success! There is not a much worse feeling in the world than working for something and not seeing results; however, this is something that StudyTree is working to change. By compiling the most effective study plans and strategies, students can now feel calm, prepared, and confident for anything their academic lives may throw at them. Similarly, professors will benefit from StudyTree’s easily interpretable yet detailed informatics – displaying the analysis of class performance. Now, professors can focus directly on subject materials that have proven troublesome to their students. In this advanced interactive environment – fostered and cultivated by StudyTree – both students and professors can rest assured in knowing that academic success can always accompany hard work and dedication.

By: Joe Snyder

Costs, peer collaboration, technology, and more solutions for higher-ed administrators

  1.   Costs

According to a 2014 Forbes survey, the number one issue facing the majority of colleges and universities is the issue of balancing budgeting and costs.  Currently, higher educational institutions around the country spend thousands of dollars on the upkeep and maintenance of physical tutoring departments.  When every penny counts, StudyTree is a solution.  Combining our intrinsically cost-effective, on-demand platform and finance dashboard that allows administrators to monitor tutoring expenses, colleges and universities can save thousands of dollars—all while making a huge impact on the positive academic success of their students.  

  1.    Sustainable Implementation Strategies

Let’s face it; as more individuals and firms begin to realize both the economic and environmental long run benefits of internal sustainability, sustainable architecture will become the new normal.  Some universities, such as Drexel University, are heavily focused on innovation and sustainable features within all buildings; however, the vast majority of colleges and universities are having trouble shifting to more sustainable implementation strategies.  StudyTree can help.  By combining a user-friendly interface with an intuitive online platform, StudyTree can help save money that would typically be spent on maintenance and construction of physical tutoring centers: saving colleges and universities thousands while helping to instill a sustainable mindset.

  1.   Balancing Research Opportunities with a Commitment to Education

With 73% of students attending universities that conduct some degree of research (www.usnews.com), many universities are faced with a dilemma: how to effectively balance time and expenditures to advance both internal research and education.  With the ever important concept of ranking in the minds of nearly all college and university administrators, this dilemma can be difficult.  StudyTree can actually benefit both aspects: research and education.  With StudyTree’s intuitive A.I. platform, professors, administrators, and tutors can accurately pinpoint problem areas within a student’s and/or class’s lesson comprehension and develop strategic personal and group study plans.  With quicker access to and termination of problem areas, professors can spend less time analyzing class performance and more time incorporating their personal or field research into the class curriculum—comprehensively advancing both research and education.

  1.    Initiating Peer Collaboration

As author and spiritual master, Dr. Amit Ray, was famously quoted as saying, “The wind, bees and flowers work together to spread the pollen.”—as is the same in the realm of higher education.  Unfortunately, many university students have admitted to experiencing a gap between their academic issue and the availability of their respective professors.  StudyTree can strategically mend this gap in a manner that benefits all aspects of the university community.  With our collaborative view toward on-demand tutoring, students can work directly with their peers who have previously excelled in the same courses they find difficulty in—fostering an enriching and dynamic tutoring experience.  Nevertheless, students are not the only individuals who can benefit from StudyTree’s innovative approach to tutoring.  Professors can also analyze the academic performance of their classes through StudyTree’s intuitive grade recording.  Therefore, professors can now pinpoint and focus directly on aspects of their lectures that the majority of students find difficulty in—effectively allowing the wind, bees and flowers to collaboratively spread the pollen.  

  1.     Implementation of Technology Within the Classroom

Colleges and universities around the country are attempting to enrich their students educational experiences by integrating progressive technologies into the classroom.  Examples of these new implementations include electronic textbooks and even downloadable lecture podcasts such as the ones that Georgetown University is currently in the process of integrating.  However, one of the biggest problems universities face is changing the culture and mindset of education.  Adrian Sannier, vice president, university technology officer and professor of computing studies at Arizona State University optimistically stated, “ We need some lighthouse institutions to do some amazing things with these technologies in classrooms and change them, and then to propagate those.”  StudyTree can allow you college or university to become that “lighthouse institution”.  StudyTree’s progressive highly technological platform has been received well at numerous innovative institutions such as Drexel University.  Now, the only question is, will your college or university become the trailblazer or will it be left in the dust by other institutions who have acted on this new wave of progressive technology?

By: Joe Snyder

This One Overlooked Tip Can Save Your College Thousands

It’s a new year or a new semester. As an administrator, you have your goals and your priorities. You want to execute on your tasks and improve your institution and the experience for students. But there’s one slight problem: Money (or the lack of it).

It’s true. StudyTree has found via interviews with Academic Resources administrators that the lack of resources is the biggest problem holding back programs from successfully helping students.

Some Academic Resources Departments need to hire another staff member and others need to increase the pay of tutors to incentivize student-peers to join. Whatever it is, it seems like your department is always getting the short-stick.

But what if I told you that there was a way to save big without having to make any tradeoffs? What if I told you your department could have a cache of thousands of extra dollars? After finding this lost money, maybe your department could finally purchase that new Keurig machine that only Admissions has.

StudyTree has the solution: space. Save money by saving space, big time. Your Tutoring Center costs thousands of dollars each year to maintain. Electricity, security, custodians, you name it. It all takes valuable resources away from your department that you could be spending on other priorities.

Here at StudyTree, we think big by breaking down walls and we think you should do the same.

With the StudyTree platform, you no longer need a large Tutoring Center that holds appointments between students and tutors. Why can’t students and tutors meet at the dorm lounge or at the nearby coffee-shop? These places are much more conducive to learning anyways because they are more relaxed and welcoming.

StudyTree makes in-person meetings at better locations possible. It uses a mobile app to connect students and tutors, so they can choose exactly where and when to meet. As an administrator, you can monitor everything via our administrator portal. You don’t lose on the tutoring service but you save big on the tutoring space.
Let StudyTree save you thousands. Save money by saving space and minimize the size of the Tutoring Center. Facilitate more authentic meetings in peer to peer tutoring. All with the touch of a button.

By: Sohum Daftary

The College Tuition Bubble is Bursting & Your School Can Stop It

The cost of college is rising at an unstable rate, and administrators will take the hit. StudyTree offers a unique and pragmatic solution.

 

Every year, we hear the same story: College tuition is increasing. Students are finding it difficult to afford college. Student debt is higher than it was last year. According to Washington Monthly, the cost of college is rising faster than the cost of medical care and almost every other product in America. These increases in tuition seem to be endless.

However, the story that does not get repeated each year is that these increases can impact college administrators in a potentially disastrous way. You might be wondering why administrators, who benefit from increased revenue, are in major trouble after tuition increases.

Here’s the answer. College tuition will eventually be so expensive that students and families will begin to look for alternatives to traditional college, like online courses (which are seeing a huge increase in enrollment) and trade schools. A sharp drop in students means that colleges will lose money and begin to implement severe cuts, starting with unnecessary members of administration and leaving thousands unemployed.

You may be thinking that colleges can simply continue to raise tuition to pay for their administrations. That’s not feasible. According to research by Bain and Company Consulting, passing the cost of tuition onto students is not sustainable because families are losing their ability and patience to bankroll education.

These increases in tuition and hiring of more and more administration are leading to a bubble, where both tuition and the size of administration are soaring way to fast. Eventually, this bubble will pop, meaning that families will not pay for tuition and administrators will lose their jobs in massive quantities.

Fueling the bubble burst is public animosity towards colleges creating a PR disaster. For colleges, public perception is critical because it draws in new students. Families know that for additional increases in college bureaucracy and administration, less money goes to faculty. In fact, the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy found that for a 5% decrease in administration, there was a 68% increase in faculty for some colleges.

It’s clear that unless colleges do something, administrators are going to lose their jobs.

What is the solution? Make the administration smarter and more efficient with StudyTree.  

In fact, with StudyTree, your college can cut tuition rates by using technology to make its administration leaner and smaller.

StudyTree has major cost reduction potential in one specific area of administration: Student Services and Tutoring. It uses technology to do many of the menial tasks like matching school-provided tutors with students, paying tutors, monitoring and checking in with tutors, and identifying students that are at risk of failing.

According to Ronald Ehrenberg, a Professor of Economics at Cornell University, colleges can “achieve efficiencies in how information technology and other support services” are used. StudyTree makes the administration more efficient and reduces the overall tuition students have to pay by cutting costs. Ehrenberg, an expert in higher education, suggests that colleges “move fully to electronic purchasing to reduce paperwork” in order to cut costs.

StudyTree frees up administrators. It has smart technology that processes tutoring requests so that administrators don’t have to. StudyTree frees up buildings. Students and tutors can meet on their own time at a mutually convenient location. Now, people and buildings can be set to accommodate the main purpose of your college: To spread knowledge and educate the future.

First it was the American manufacturing industry that was out-competed by China. Then it was the taxi industry that was overtaken by Uber and other ride-sharing apps. Now, it’s higher education’s turn to be competitive.

The bubble is bursting and your administration is on the chopping block. The only question is, are you going to save it?

 

By: Sohum Daftary

Partnership With Blackboard!

Recently, we at StudyTree solidified our partnership with Blackboard. We are extremely excited for what this development means for us moving forward, and the institutions that we can have even further integration with. Here is some background information for those of you that enjoy the details.

What is an LMS?

Most college students have no idea what this acronym stand for but they have all in one way shape or form used an LMS. Now if you’re unfamiliar with all of this; The acronym is popular in the EdTech startup world, referring to a system that organizes information for schools. Ever heard of Blackboard? Moodle? or Canvas? Yes those are LMS and it stands for Learning Management System. It’s basically one behemoth platform that allows the institutions in education to communicate between the administrators, instructors and most importantly the students.

The Market

Now let’s get into the market of these Learning Management Systems. Don’t worry we won’t get into the boring details, let’s just summarize that Blackboard, Moodle and Canvas collectively control almost 75% of the market for institutions of higher education. The LMS market by the numbers is pretty staggering in regards to who is running the show, especially to StudyTree. For us trying to operate within higher education, it is imperative that we partner with these companies to offer the most that we can to our clients… while avoiding competition when we don’t need to.  

FERPA

We all love and hate FERPA depending on which side of the educational wall you’re on. Students love this when they’re trying to hide their poor performance in class from their parents. And parents hate this when they’re trying to find out how their kids are performing and legally can’t. Well for the greater good, FERPA protects everyone from releasing any kind of information to anyone. At StudyTree, we are not trying to create an “uber for tutor” platform. We are striving to create powerful platforms for students and institutions themselves to enhance the learning environment and drive success. So the question is, how do you do this without the information on the student’s performance? and notify them when they’re at risk? Well the answer is simple, you can’t.

What Now? New Partnership

We wanted to create a system within StudyTree that would notify any “high risk” student who is underperforming in class. So how do we do this without all the FERPA restrictions to access student’s data? We needed access to their grades to get this new addition to the platform started. There were some interesting options to be FERPA compliant. We could have just applied for the certification, of course this would mean we would have to go through some rigorous and extremely time consuming process. As a startup, we were scaling, not stalling and this was the last thing that we wanted to do in regards to time sensitivity. Another way was to hire and contract a FERPA certified information technology company to handle all of our traffic. Again we didn’t want to waste our funding on a big IT contract. I mean obviously it’s not our bread and butter but we wanted to make StudyTree better with this notification feature. There was only one option left, partnerships.

Ethan had met someone from Blackboard during his invite to EDUCAUSE 2015, the biggest institution of higher education conference in the country. After reaching out to Blackboard, we got a meeting with a representative. Which later turns out, that’s all we really needed. By the time we ended our conference call with the Blackboard representative, we knew exactly how we would integrate with their LMS. This would open up an entire new door to StudyTree’s notification feature and access to all the pre-existing institutions that are using Blackboard. Partnering with Blackboard has been the biggest validation for our platform to this point.

We’re taking big steps into EdTech and into institutions of higher learning with our partnership with Blackboard. We are excited to see what we will do next with Blackboard and new partners as we move forward.