Kristin Taylor
May 4, 2017

Leveraging ClearScholar For Digitized Coaching: Data, Strategy and Coaching Insights Converge

If I had a dollar for every time I introduced myself as a “Student Success Coach” to new college students over the past ten years, only to be told they did not know what coaching was, or that they did not need a coach, I could have retired a long time ago. Mind you; this was when they picked up the phone or responded to an email or text.

Many of these students did not make it to the next semester, let alone graduate.

For student coaching to work in driving measurable impact, it must fall into an elusive success formula: when the right student engages with the right coach at the right time, and via the right communication channel – magic happens. It’s the convergence of timing, openness, engagement, talent and connection – and it is contingent upon reliable insights to inform strategy, outreach, and coaching quality.

Unfortunately, because of a lack of strategic and reliable data as to who is most receptive to the benefits of coaching and when to provide coaching, institutions are forced to utilize too much of their coaches valuable time not coaching students. Instead, they spend a lot of time chasing students.

Let’s start by addressing these three issues:

  1. Coaching is misunderstood and underutilized.
  2. Disproportionately targeting “at-risk” students almost exclusively, will not yield the best results.
  3. Coaches spend too much time chasing and not enough time coaching.

The first issue is less than controversial. By necessity, as a coach, I became a master at building rapport with lightning speed and keeping students on the phone long enough to gain their trust, dispel misinformed beliefs about coaching, and provide a value proposition in such a way that even academically prepared students were open to further conversation. Students do not want to feel like they’re being targeted – like they are receiving a call from a coach because they are “at risk”. My go-to phrase was that even elite athletes leverage coaching. Coaching is misunderstood because too many institutions and students believe it’s only for students who are struggling academically.

What we cannot afford, however, is a myopic approach that prioritizes the needs of “at-risk” students above others. Although their needs are more obvious, it does not mean other students’ needs – however, masked or delayed in consequence – are not as important and perhaps even more responsive to a timely coaching intervention. These are the students who appear to be just fine on the surface, but for whom without internal or external coping resources are vulnerable to mindset issues that allow situational and personal obstacles to derail their academic commitment.

Not all students want coaching regardless of their performance, and employing enough coaches to attempt to engage all students to glean who is both open to coaching as well as who would most likely drop without it, is less than cost effective.

This is where the merging of behavioral science (coaching and psychology) with the best in data science is a creative and cost effective solution.

I believe the solution lies in employing Digitized Coaching methods; here is how leveraging a rich mobile student app like ClearScholar, paired with best practices in student coaching can create a scalable, cost-effective and impactful solution:

  • Students can “push their personal pause button”. Institutions offer all students “coaching moments”, allowing them to be the potential gateway to more support by pulling students toward coaching, rather than attempting to push it on them.
  • Coaching push notifications are non-interactive: for students who are disinterested they are easily de-prioritized, but for others, the act of clicking on the coaching content activates student driven engagement with further relevant resources.
  • ClearScholar’s dashboard captures which and when students click and swipe, how frequently and for what questions. These data provide insight into who is most amenable to coaching and which mindset issue is potentially at play. This has the benefit of reducing the guesswork around student prioritization and quickly delivering powerful and relevant coaching.

The “coaching nudges” are designed to interrupt disempowered mindset issues and to develop non-cognitive skills and capacities in students that are predictive of student success. Below are just a few questions that might be delivered through the app;

  • “When you stumble, what phrase, song or image will be a meaningful reminder that struggling is normal, and will motivate you to continue to drive forward as a student?”
  • “What do you say to yourself when you’re overwhelmed or stressed? Does this self-talk help and is it something you would say to someone you love and respect? If not, what do you need to practice saying to yourself instead?”
  • “When you’re connected to your ‘best self,’ how do others describe you? How can you leverage these qualities this week?

ClearScholar is committed to driving meaningful student engagement in a way that directly impacts existing college success coaching programs by introducing them through a student-driven channel.