Winston-Salem State University Improves Writing Persistence for First-Year Students Using Upswing

Industry: Education

Use of Upswing’s Education Tools Key Helping WSSU Lead Efforts to Improving Persistence Among First-Year Students

AUSTIN, Texas (PRUnderground) November 6th, 2019

Education startup Upswing’s recent Retention Impact Study focusing on Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), a public historically black university (HBCU) and the #1 rated HBCU in North Carolina, shows that the university’s persistence among first-year students is improving since providing its students with Upswing’s integrated student services platform during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Persistence, unlike student retention, is related to the percentage of students who matriculate from one semester to the next.

“Students don’t think about graduation. That’s too far away. They think about the obstacles they are enduring today, obstacles preventing them from matriculating to the next semester,” says Melvin Hines, co-founder, and CEO of Upswing, and former HBCU professor.

Upswing provides WSSU students with access to assistance with basic writing and research skills through Upswing’s Writing Lab to help students pass their first year.

“A number of our students have very hectic schedules and cannot always make it to a traditional face-to-face tutoring session.  Upswing makes it possible for students to get academic support at their convenience,” says Stephanie T. Dance-Barnes, Ph.D., Associate Provost, and Dean at Winston Salem State University.

Upswing Writing Lab Helps WSSU First-Year Students

WSSU students have the option to take advantage of 24/7 online tutoring with Upswing’s tutors or scheduling in-person sessions with a WSSU staff member.

However, the most critical education tool for WSSU students is the Upswing Writing Lab.

Upswing’s Writing Lab lessons are mostly in the form of videos, and students have several options for assistance, including the writing process, pre-writing, and drafting.

Students can then choose the type of assistance they need and review as many lessons as they like, and students can take them as often as they want.

“WSSU students paying attention to the information and strategies presented in the short videos they watch in the Writing Lab are well on their way to becoming better writers, and advancing to the next semester,” says Hines.

Upswing Has WSSU on the Upswing in Student Success

A key finding in the study shows that during the 2018-2019 academic year, WSSU students are 36% more likely to persist than students not using Upswing.

Also, WSSU’s Upswing users show a statistically higher average term GPA for all undergraduates than those students not using Upswing’s tutoring services.

WSSU Freshmen, in particular, saw the most significant academic benefits using Upswing.

Students in Development Writing courses at WSSU were 20% more likely to persist while using the Upswing Writing Lab than those who did not.

“As we work to be more intentional about how we are supporting our non-traditional student population, Upswing plays a major part in how we can extend the reach of our academic support services.  The accessibility of Upswing data related to student usage and performance allows us to better gauge student success and improve upon retention efforts,” says Dance-Barnes.

Upswing is playing a pivotal role in WSSU’s retention rates.

As a result, an increase in the rate of Fall to Spring persistence during the academic year resulted in Upswing saving WSSU approximately $23,807 in total tuition dollars.

“Being a college student is difficult. But if you’re an online student, an adult learner, or first-generation student, those challenges can be particularly overwhelming,” says Hines. “I’m proud to partner with a campus like WSSU,  where there is such an emphasis on how to act in ways that lead all students to want to stay and complete their degrees.”

Learn more about how Upswing can positively engage students at

About Upswing
Upswing is an Austin, Texas-based educational technology startup removing the barriers to degree equality. Learn more about Upswing at

About Upswing

Upswing is an Austin, Texas-based educational technology startup removing the barriers to degree equality. Learn more about Upswing at

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