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A majority of student success directors, administrators and advisers say artificial intelligence (AI) can help identify students in need of support, but almost no institutions are creating streamlined approaches to use AI technology, a new report finds.

More than three out of five people surveyed (62 percent) said a top use of AI would be more quickly identifying students in need of interventions, according to education consulting firm EAB. More than half of respondents (58 percent) said AI could help quickly identify students who need additional support.

“While much of the conversation around AI and higher education has been focused on classroom implications, colleges are increasingly integrating AI across various aspects of student support and administrative processes,” the report said. “It’s crucial that all departments, including student success, build AI literacy and consider how AI can simplify workflows to improve student outcomes.”

About a third of the 221 student success professionals surveyed said AI could be used to recommend academic pathways and courses to students, helping those with extra needs.

Most of those surveyed (69 percent) said they had used AI over the last year, including for crafting student communications, answering questions faster, and helping students with career research.

But the report found many of these student success professionals are doing it on their own. They reported that 37 percent of their institutions “never” encourage student success teams to use AI, and 79 percent of institutions rarely or never collect information on how the teams use AI.

Roughly half (49 percent) said their institutions never encourage them to share what they’re learning about AI with their peers, with slightly more stating they are never asked to share AI-use cases.

Having those conversations could lead to more AI usage: 62 percent of respondents said they’d be more comfortable using AI if they had examples from their peers, with the same percentage saying they would be more comfortable if they had more time to experiment with AI. Just over half (52 percent) said their comfort level would increase if there were institutional groups working together to explore AI.

The biggest worry of the student success professionals was errors in AI communication, with 64 percent citing concern that mistakes could harm students. More than half (56 percent) also pointed to the potential for biased AI-generated content. Respondents were not too concerned about AI rendering their roles useless, with just 13 percent citing redundancy as a fear.

The EAB report lists several AI recommendations, including centralizing AI best practices, developing AI collaborative spaces, defining and addressing AI risk and making AI a strategic priority by investing financially and offering AI literacy resources.

The poll surveyed 221 student success professionals, with 56 percent serving in a director role and 21 percent in a cabinet role.

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