Improving student engagement and course completion using chatbot application

Written by:
Antonela Čižmešija

A. Čižmešija, A. Horvat, D. Plantak Vukovac

University of Zagreb, Faculty of Organization and Informatics (CROATIA)

Fostering students’ engagement in the learning process is crucial for their academic success and can impact their achievement, course completion and skill development. This paper explores the potential of chatbots for improving student engagement and course completion. For this purpose, we employed a communication platform with chatbot functionalities called Differ in five courses at the Faculty of Organization and Informatics during the summer semester of 2019/2020 academic year. Educators that tested the platform used different strategies to engage their students in Differ, which resulted in various amounts of student’s interactions with the educators or among the students in the course. At the end of the semester, students received a survey in which they were asked to evaluate their learning process and engagement using Differ. Overall, 76 students (n=76) responded to the online survey voluntarily and anonymously. For 84,21% of respondents, usage of Differ has improved communication with the course teachers. Among participants, Differ has been recognized as a valuable tool for improving course performance which was confirmed by calculating Spearman’s rho correlation coefficient. However, even though the chabot application gained positive impression because of establishing a more approachable and informal communication channel with the course teachers, results show lack of peer-to-peer communication habits on the Differ platform for course activities. Future research should include more students from different universities to gain better insight into the usage and interactions within the chatbots in education, and explore the teacher's perspective with best practices to use the chatbots in the course

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