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Supporting New Online Students with Faculty-led Live Chat

Jeffrey Hall (Ashford University, USA)
Additional Authors
Wendy Conaway (Ashford University, USA)
Debby Hailwood (Ashford University, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 9:15am
Student Services and Learner Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Americas Seminar
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 5

Development, implementation, results, and reflection on a faculty-led live chat offering in Ashford University's online, entry point courses: EXP 105 and PSY 202.

Extended Abstract

The typical non-traditional student entering Ashford University faces many challenges that can inhibit success. Challenges can include, but are not limited to time-management, reading comprehension, writing skills, self-confidence, and anxiety about pursuing online education. These challenges can overwhelm students to the point where they feel intimidated and ultimately drop out. Recognizing that additional support and encouragement can impact student retention and ultimately student success, a live chat offering was introduced in Ashford?s entry point courses: EXP 105 and PSY 202 in November, 2014.
Live Chat provides an opportunity for entry point students to receive personalized, interactive support during their initial experience at Ashford University. There are several valuable pieces of information to be gleaned from the analysis of Live Chat at Ashford. First, Live Chat does appear to be a valuable asset to our students as it has provided an alternative outlet for them to seek assistance outside of the classroom. Adding this ?high touch? element for the entry point students offers support and assistance that likely helps them feel more comfortable and secure in their first experience with Ashford.
Second, the questions and concerns shared by students provide insight into the difficulties they typically experience as students as well as shed light on areas of the courses that might need adjustment or improvement. Specific items were built into a survey to capture data that are typical areas of concern. As expected, most of the issues occurred in the first week and reduced by half in the second week. Issues declined from week three through week five, except for a spike in week four of the EXP 105 course related to assignment assistance. Information such as this assisted faculty in the development of a key assignment in the course.
This session will discuss the development, implementation, results, and reflection on the Live Chat initiative.

Lead Presenter

Jeffrey Hall is a Professor and Department Chair for entry point and Social Science courses in the Division of General Education at Ashford University. His prior experience in higher education ranges from Academic Advisor to Instructional Designer. Dr. Hall earned his master's degree in Instructional Technology from the University of South Florida (USF) and later earned a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership, also from USF. His dissertation research focused on the self-directed learning characteristics of at-risk students in a summer bridge program. Additional research interests include metacognition, persistence of at-risk students, orientation programs, and online learning & pedagogy.