Lone Star College-Montgomery on the forefront of student success at SXSW Panel

Lone Star College-Montgomery’s vice president of Student Success Michael Chavez is a self-proclaimed data geek who put Lone Star College in the spotlight during Austin’s SXSWEdu Conference.

Chavez presented with Ernest Ezeugo from New America and Mark Milliron from Civitas Learning during a panel moderated by Amy Scott from Marketplace.

“I was excited to be presenting with these nationally-known educational gurus,” said Chavez. “They are like superheroes in education, it was an honor to present with them.”

The panel discussion was titled NudgeU: Learning from Behavioral Economics.

“Nudging is based on choices,” said Chavez. “It is not about eliminating choice, but putting the best choice up front where people, in this case, students, can see it.”

A famous nudge occurred when a country was having issues with males not properly aiming while urinating so they painted a fly on the urinal. The nudge stopped spillage on the floor, resulting in less cleanup and a more pleasant bathroom experience. It’s not about eliminating choice, rather presenting the best choice up front where students can see and identify their best options.

One of Chavez’s success stories at LSC-Montgomery involved students who had a high GPA but were not likely to stay enrolled.

“To have a successful nudge we combine predictive analytics with behavioral economics and marketing to target specific student populations,” said Chavez. “We architect a nudge specifically for those students. That nudge can be sent via email, text message or social media, in addition to our mobile application and online portal. It is not a shotgun approach, it is all very targeted.”

He engineered an email with the Public Relations and Marketing Communications team. The subject line read ‘We’re proud of you’ and the body of the email echoed that message while being realistic about the challenges that might be facing students like finances or transportation challenges. The message encouraged students to reach out to faculty or staff if they were encountering any challenges to their education.

The result was 9.5 percent of those students who received that email nudge returned next semester compared to students in similar situations who did not receive a nudge.

“One of my favorite parts about nudging is that when you start looking at data collaboratively you start interacting and communicating with people that you might not have interacted with before,” said Chavez. “This communication really helps you think about student success from many different, important perspectives." 

Listen to the entire panel discussion here: Schedule.SXSWedu.com/2018/Events/PP80298

Read more about LSC-Montgomery’s ethical nudging practices:


View how Lone Star College is using Civitas Learning across all campuses to improve outcomes for students


Lone Star College offers high-quality, low-cost academic transfer and career training education to 99,000 students each semester. LSC is training tomorrow’s workforce today and redefining the community college experience to support student success. Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., serves as chancellor of LSC, the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area with an annual economic impact of $3.1 billion. LSC consists of six colleges, eight centers, two university centers, Lone Star Corporate College and LSC-Online. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu.

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