Leaders’ Perspectives: Using Data to Drive Student Success

March 13, 2017

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By Wei-Lin Chen

Higher education institutions are dedicated to helping students achieve their academic and life goals. But with the graduation rate for full-time students hovering around 60 percent, higher education institutions need to find new and innovative ways to measure and understand which student success initiatives really work to help students achieve their full potential.

During the ACE2017 session “Using Data to Drive Student Success,” four panelists—MJ Bishop, University System of Maryland; Janet Dillon, Penn State World Campus; David Lassner, University of Hawai’i System; and Stephen Smith, Hobsons—shared their own experiences in utilizing data to identify best practices across campuses, engage faculty and staff and improve student success.

Facing an increasingly complex student body including adult learners, minority students and part-time students, institutions have to create a culture of data sharing, develop a matrix to measure student success, and provide clear course pathways for students based on data-driven analyses in order to inform student success.

Create a culture of data sharing

University System of Maryland has created a data-sharing culture by establishing a forum among institutions. Institutions collect data about students and instruction and share successful strategies for improving student success among all participant institutions, enabling use of the same matrix to measure and inform student success.

Develop matrix of student success

Penn State World Campus has been developing matrix of student success which includes measures of non-cognitive skills. By identifying the relationship between non-cognitive skills and student success, the institution provides better services for students. Meanwhile, University System of Maryland has collected data regarding students’ behaviors and sense of belonging, course characteristics and instructor behaviors to better understand how higher education institutions can increase student success through using an institutional data warehouse.

Provide clear course pathways for students

Through external vendors, University of Hawai’i System examines risk factors that impact student retention and graduation and develops intervention strategies. In addition, instead of providing students a wide range of courses to select, University of Hawai’i System directs students with course pathway guidance. Therefore, students choose courses effectively and efficiently and institutions can keep students on track for graduation.

By utilizing data for student success, institutions can help students prepare for as well as change their future.

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