Trends and Issues in Higher Ed

February 25, 2016

The Husky Experience Toolkit

To help students access and understand critical transition information, campus partners came together to reach students where they’re already looking — online at MyUW

Girl sitting and texting

Students can engage with the Husky Experience Toolkit on their mobile phones or on the computer.

Before they can take advantage of the many resources and opportunities that can help shape their Husky Experience, students have to know when, where and what those opportunities can be. But with a university this big, students have long reported that they struggle to process all the available information; then, when they realize they need something specific, they don’t know where to look.

Providing custom, just-in-time communication

In 2015, the Husky Experience Toolkit (formally #ThriveUW) launched as a pilot program on the Seattle campus to deliver information crafted specifically for first-year students in a timely, direct way through the MyUW homepage and mobile app. First-year students receive weekly messages specially crafted by faculty, advisers and experienced students aimed at helping them become aware of the many resources and opportunities at the University while presenting strategies to help them make the most of the information. The Husky Experience Toolkit program expands the ability to reach these first-year students, bringing them closer to the campus programs that can help them have a truly transformative educational experience.

“While the Husky Experience is different for every student — each of them chooses a unique set of academic and out-of-class experiences that contribute to their learning — we know that making sure they are knowledgeable about opportunities is an important first step,” explains Michaelann Jundt, associate dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. “[The Husky Experience Toolkit] is a way to make sure that all first-year students receive the same message about the wealth of resources and activities available to them.”

The Husky Experience Toolkit has increased the capacity for campus communications to reach first years without relying solely on mass emails or students’ initiative to sign up for messages.

During fall 2015, message content covers a wide range of topics, among them: tips and tools for stress management and wellness, directing students to advising resources to work on an academic plan or the Career Center for a career preparation strategy, and why getting involved outside the classroom through student organizations and campus events is important to their development.

For instance, the Husky Experience Toolkit messaging about library resources reads: “Need help with research? Librarians are experts at finding answers and navigating and evaluating information resources.” It presents a “Try This” suggestion, with simple actions and steps to encourage students to make their first connections with UW Libraries, and then includes helpful links for quick access to additional resources.

Strategic partnering with live campus events can boost participation

The timing of events such as Dawg Daze and others by partner units like the Career Center and Housing & Food Services reinforced the information new students were receiving through the Husky Experience Toolkit. For example, Odegaard Library held a “get to know your library” event following their related the Husky Experience Toolkit messaging. “We were able to connect with undergraduate students in a fun, informal way and inform them about Library services and resources,” explained Amanda Hornby, teaching and learning program librarian at Odegaard Undergraduate Library. “[The Husky Experience Toolkit] also enables us to highlight the resources and people most relevant to new UW students and by so doing help to demystify a complex and large library system.”

By the end of the first phase, the UW Libraries are one partner that has seen
positive results. Programs such as Residential Life, Peer Advisers and others are integrating the Husky Experience Toolkit as a resource for anyone working with first years. UW-IT continues to gather data and assess the efficacy of the program, but early results point towards success — student polls show that first years have an increased knowledge of campus resources and opportunities compared to previous years. Through the creative collaboration of campus partners, the Husky Experience Toolkit is getting results and benefiting students.

Article originally titled, “#ThriveUW,” content updated July 19, 2018.