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“One of the most powerful piece is that students will ask it questions they would never ask another human being, because it’s a bot,” Elizabeth Adams, associate vice president for undergraduate studies at California State University, Northridge.

“They’re grateful to it for providing them the answers they need without saying, ‘You should have known that.’

It’s a place they can turn that’s judgment-free.” “One of the things we know about our freshmen is that if they drop out after a year or two, they don’t come back, and they don’t get a degree anywhere,” Adams said.

As a faculty member herself, Adams has seen the chatbot’s effectiveness firsthand.

Last fall, she said, all it took was one nudge from the chatbot to motivate an at-risk student to change a behavior — frequently missing tests — that was proving detrimental to her academic performance.

“Students don’t mind the bot,” she says. “They actually listen to the bot.

These are capable of being excellent students. We have to produce ways to make them feel supported.”

Part of CSUN’s chatbot success, Adams said, could be attributed to the layered approach the school has taken to implementing and deploying the technology.

It’s all the things together.” The bot has even shaped how people in Adams’ department communicate with each other, driving them at times to adopt the more casual tone established by the chatbot rather than a more institutional.

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