C. Kaur, T. Cui, J. Luu

Monash University (AUSTRALIA)
Research shows that effective teacher-student communication provides a platform in which students are encouraged and motivated to grow both academically and personally. Instructional communication researchers suggest that improved student-faculty communication is able to generate positive education outcomes such as enhanced aspirations, affirmation, confidence, academic and cognitive development, persistence and improved university retention. However, reaching out to students can prove to be difficult when dealing with large and diverse student cohorts. As a result, understanding the needs of individual students is often difficult, thus deterring students from actively engaging and participating in learning activities. Consequently, students lack the ability to connect with teaching staff and their peers, thus losing the ability to succeed in their study. In some cases they may experience stress and a lack of self confidence and motivation

In this paper we discuss findings of a pilot project where we introduce an intervention process through a personalized communication system in a large postgraduate course. The system implemented facilitates personalised communication through the use of learning analytics. It involves identification of students at risk where instructors send bulk personalised emails to identified students via a system called Student Relationship Engagement System (SRES). This marks the beginning of ongoing collaborative monitoring of academic and personal progress. Through collaboration between academic and pastoral support mechanisms, instructors are able to reach out to students who might also be experiencing stress and other mental health issues, and encourage them to seek appropriate professional assistance from the university.

There are several key benefits of this process. Firstly, it enables a proactive approach aimed at encouraging student engagement and retention. Personalised communication allows teachers to take a hands-on approach to enhance student engagement. Secondly, this preventive model replaces the current corrective approach. In the current approach, struggling students are referred to the Academic Progress Committee at the end of the semester. In our approach, students at risk are identified early in the semester, and they are given multiple support mechanisms to help improve their academic performance.

The third benefit is that the e-mails are personalised and is not sent through a general bulk messaging method, students are more likely to reach out to teaching staff to ask for help. This ensures that students feel safe and supported in their learning. The fourth benefit is that it allows educators to reach out to students who might be experiencing stress and other mental health issues, and encourage them to seek appropriate professional assistance from the university. Students are more willing to seek and accept such assistance given that personalised communication is perceived as private and confidential communication.

In this paper, we analyse and present the findings based on exam performance. We also present qualitative feedback received from students.