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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

How AI-Powered Chatbots Are Being Adopted and Used by Higher Education Institutions to Improve the Student Experience by Scaling Professional Staff
by Boeding, Jesse Anne, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2020, 191; 28000542
Abstract (Summary)

AI-powered chatbots are an emerging technology being adopted by higher education institutions to help manage workload and improve the student experience. However, unlike other technology adoptions that have a “set up and go” infrastructure, the AI backbone of the chatbots is built on intentions and demands cultivated by the entire campus.

To explore how institutions were adopting and using chatbots, I conducted a qualitative case study at three public higher education institutions interviewing people who were sitting within the strategic enrollment management office

This study sought to understand three primary things through the Bolman and Deal framework: first, factors influencing adoption, including the conditions on campus, the role of the budget, and other levels of intentionality embedded in choosing a chatbot. Second, how stakeholder relationships evolved with adoption and use of a chatbot, and whether incentives or disincentives or other social influence influenced chatbot adoption and use. And, finally, understanding how institutional processes and student interactions changed, how those changes were perceived, and what was learned.

Pubic higher education institutions (HEIs) are facing increasing competitive pressures and student expectations, resulting in the challenge to create more extensive student support to improve the student experience—all in the midst of diminishing budgets and heightened criticism. Without addressing this capacity issue through improved scaling of services, HEIs will not be able to meet retention, completion, and diversity goals being used to allocate state funding.

The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore how public higher education student services departments, specifically the Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) offices, adopt and use AI-powered chatbots for improved student services to address increased competitive issues and higher student expectations. I interviewed individuals to understand better the factors that influenced chatbot adoption decisions, the extent and type of engagement by stakeholders across the institution, and what type of institutional change resulted from the chatbot adoption and use.

This case study revealed four key elements. The first element was the importance of integration with the institution’s technology infrastructure and enterprise-wide processes and policies. Second, having ownership at an executive level created ease of use across multiple divisions/departments. Third, establishing and using metrics can influence the use and scaling of the chatbots’ capabilities. And, finally, stakeholder understanding of chatbot capacity is extremely important to the successful adoption of a chatbot to support students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Garland, Peter H.
Commitee: Eckel, Peter, Witham, Keith
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Higher Education Management
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 82/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education, Educational technology, Technical Communication, Artificial intelligence
Keywords: artificial intelligence, chatbots, scaling professional staff, student experience, student support, technology
Publication Number: 28000542
ISBN: 9798664791617
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