Kognito at the University of Dayton in The Chronicle of Higher Education
February 27, 2019
The full version of this article is available here; please see below for an excerpt.
Dayton took this one step further, adding a training module to its optional curriculum for students in campus housing so that they can retake it whenever necessary. Mental-health awareness isn’t a skill learned once, DeWitt said: It requires practice and consistent exposure to build “a culture of care.”The Roman Catholic institution’s residential program — which 90 percent of its undergraduates are part of — encourages community engagement. Those who participate in local programming, service events, or the mental-health module accumulate points in the residential system. The more points a student has, the better his or her odds are to select student housing the next year. It’s a recurring incentive for students to participate, DeWitt said.The module is created by Kognito, a company that creates simulations designed to help people change their behaviors. Essentially, it helps students recognize signs of emotional distress. They are not required to use the program before they get to campus, although administrators want them to “engage with it more than once,” DeWitt said. About 25 percent of the university’s undergraduates completed the module this past year.Dayton measures the success of the program in multiple ways, said DeWitt. It gathers data on the number of students who complete the module and how well they perform on assessments before and after the activity.The college worked with an external consultant in 2014 to revamp its health system. In 2017, it started using Kognito’s module as a programming option, one that residential assistants and student leaders are encouraged to take.College leaders initially debated whether the Kognito simulation should be a first-year requirement, DeWitt said. As Dayton refines its wellness strategy, administrators want to take a holistic approach, because, ultimately, the college wants to ensure that students are equipped to handle problems even after they graduate.“Our counseling center is busy, just like everybody else’s, but that can’t be the only solution to the trends we’re seeing on campuses,” DeWitt said.A holistic model means investing in resources across the board. In addition to the Kognito module, the university offers an eight-hour training called Mental Health First Aid, and “mini” one-credit courses on wellness, personal relationships, and mindful learning. It also works with student advocacy groups for campus programming.