About Peak Education
Peak Education partners with school districts in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and beyond to increase underserved student access to college counseling and post-secondary options. Ninety percent of Peak Education scholars are students of color and will be the first in their family to attend college. Peak Education provides resources to encourage more students to apply to well matched post-secondary schools; teaches students how to navigate admissions and financial aid application processes; and helps them successfully transition to and through college.
Peak Education first used Modern Campus Message in 2020 to support students with reminders and updates through the confusion of COVID-19.
There were certainly good results from the transactional messaging we sent—directing students what to do, where to go, reminders, etc. However, it seemed like we were missing a major component of how students use texts to pump each other up to be a line of support to one another.
Taylor is a first-generation college student and scholar-practitioner herself. With a focus on social-emotional skills, career readiness, and tools for success in higher education, she was particularly interested in tapping into the power of positive messaging with Peak Education students. Her vision was to send messages of encouragement and then assess the impact on students’ academic performance as measured by their GPAs.
In Spring 2021, Taylor identified 33 students who were high risk (who had negatively impacted GPAs during the pandemic) to receive positive messaging, to see if it made a difference in their performance and engagement with resources for support. She sent the same messages to students in a control group of 49 high-performing students.
"We were trying to see whether moving away from action-oriented messages that are transactional, and engaging students by offering support and encouragement, would make a difference," Taylor said. "We knew the answer to this question could fundamentally change our communication strategy."
Each week, Taylor texted a message, a quote, and a video and prompted students to respond with their thoughts. The students responded—a lot.
I was so surprised by how engaged students were. They shared feedback that expressed that the outreach was meaningful to them. I knew some students would be into it, but I had no idea how many students would engage!Lauren Taylor
The results were statistically significant. In both the control and high risk groups, students who had received positive messages and responded to them seven or more times had notable improvements in GPA.
Taylor says that this project “was just a gut instinct” that she had along the way because if these types of positive messages felt good to her, why wouldn’t they feel good to a student?
“The trickiest part was figuring out what to send,” she admits. “I am a white, 30-something who is texting teens who are primarily not white. My team and I had a lot of conversations to explore what would resonate. For instance, is a Brené Brown quote going to go over well?” Taylor found that some of the “best practices” that make sense for adults don’t resonate with teens. However, with some modification, messages could encourage student interest and engagement.
Going forward, Taylor and her team plan to continue the positive-messaging strategy.
The bottom line is that the more we encourage students, and the more they respond, the more likely we are to impact their academic performance positively. We are so proud of our students, and they need to hear that—especially in these crazy times!Lauren Taylor
Discover additional ways you can use text messaging to support student success—and how doing so fits into the entire learner journey—in our free guide:
About Modern Campus
Modern Campus empowers 1,700+ higher education institutions to attract, engage, and retain learners for life with software solutions that enable a modern student experience.
The Modern Campus learner-to-earner lifecycle platform powers solutions for web content management, conversational text messaging, catalog and curriculum management, career pathways, student engagement and development, and non-traditional student management. The result: innovative institutions engage their modern learners for life, while providing modern administrators with the tools needed to streamline workflows and drive high efficiency.