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3 things we learned about student experience at the Experience Symposium

At the Qualtrics Experience Symposium, we heard from thought leaders and educators about new approaches to student experience that spanned everything from supporting student well-being and improving the K-12 experience for students and their families to completely re-thinking how we measure student success in higher education.

As well as a keynote session from Hamilton star Christopher Jackson and Nataly Kogan, creator of the Happier Method™, we heard from K-12 and Higher Education organizations who are designing and improving the education experience.

There were also sessions from Purdue University, Odessa College, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and Character Lab.

Check out our 3 key takeaways from the event.

1.Put your own emotional fitness first in order to support student well-being

Mental health and well-being have become a key concern for students, families, and staff. Today, these are mission-critical for schools, and Nataly Kogan, Author, CEO of Happier, and creator of the Happier Method™, outlined her approach for ‘emotional fitness’ that can be applied in schools.

“Emotional fitness is a skill,” she says. “When we cultivate it, we can improve our emotional fitness.”

Through her research she’s identified 5 key skills for emotional fitness:

  1. Acceptance — looking at a challenge ahead with clarity and understanding what you need to do to move forward
  2. Gratitude — focusing on the moments that are good during challenging times and sharing them with other people
  3. Self-care — intentionally fuelling your emotional, mental, and physical energy and doing fewer things that drain it
  4. Intentional kindness — life gets busy, so we need to practice kindness with the same intention as we do other things
  5. The bigger ‘why’ — connecting your everyday tasks to your sense of purpose

“It’s been a really hard time for high school students,” says Nataly. “I think the pandemic has provided a wake-up call that these are not soft skills — these are foundational skills that allow students to learn at their best.

Nataly points out that it starts with practicing what you preach. She pointed out that teachers tend to put themselves at the bottom of the list, however it’s essential that they first take care of themselves in order to be able to serve their students.

2. Understand, measure and track every moment in the student journey — not just what happens after graduation

New York Times bestselling author Jeff Selingo outlined a modern approach for evaluating student success in his session.

He highlighted the current system, where what students go on to do post-graduation like job outcomes and earning, is a major focus of college scorecards — something he believes is too narrow and ignores the value of what happens between starting college and graduation.

“We really need to start thinking of ways to think about student success for the entire student lifecycle,” says Jeff Selingo,

“That means looking both inside and outside the classroom — in other words, the entire student experience. Because that’s what’s really going to contribute to better retention, graduation rates, and more engaged students overall.”

He pointed out that the expectations students bring to campus today are higher than ever, and colleges need to work harder to understand their needs, and design every interaction to meet them.

“The frictionless experiences we have as consumers are what we expect when we go to college,” he said. “And colleges aren’t delivering on that - students don’t get that seamless experience they get elsewhere in their lives.”

As we move into what Jeff calls ‘student success 2.0’, colleges need to understand every moment along the student journey, measure each interaction, and use the data and insights they gather to drive decisions and actions.

3. Go beyond listening, and establish a system of action to drive real improvement in schools

Mesa Public Schools is the largest public schools district in Arizona with around 64,000 students. To drive action at scale, Mesa Public Schools has implemented a feedback and closed-loop system that’s more often associated with consumer industries.

“We’re trying to improve our relationship with families,” says Dr. Robert Carlisle, Director of Research and Evaluation at Mesa Public Schools. “Parents, teachers, staff, even students have the ability to give us feedback on a visit to a school or individual department.”

The system is driving action from both the district and individual schools to engage in a two-way dialogue with families.

It enables them to receive real-time feedback from all stakeholders, coupled with a closed-loop system that enables principals to work with parents one-to-one to help identify experience gaps and take action to close them.

“We’ve really been able to reach out to our families and identify ways that we can support them better,” says Dr Carlisle.

During COVID-19, the district was able to pivot and use that same program to set up a family support survey, asking parents where they needed support.

As a result, administrators were able to quickly identify issues from having the right technology to enable at-home learning, to economic impacts of the pandemic affecting families at home, and immediately get in touch and take action to help ensure students could continue their education.

Qualtrics // Experience Management

Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the experience management category, is a cloud-native software platform that empowers organizations to deliver exceptional experiences and build deep relationships with their customers and employees.

With insights from Qualtrics, organizations can identify and resolve the greatest friction points in their business, retain and engage top talent, and bring the right products and services to market. Nearly 20,000 organizations around the world use Qualtrics’ advanced AI to listen, understand, and take action. Qualtrics uses its vast universe of experience data to form the largest database of human sentiment in the world. Qualtrics is co-headquartered in Provo, Utah and Seattle.

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