Initiative Impact Analysis to Prioritize Action and Resource Allocation


  • Virginia Fraire, VP of Student Success, Austin Community College District
  • Laura Malcom, VP of Product, Civitas Learning Inc.
  • Angela Baldasare, Asst. Provost, Institutional Research, The University of Arizona

University of Arizona

  • Goal: improve 1st year retention rate from 81% to 91% by 2025
  • How do we find and integrate good data to make good decisions that help our students?
  • When I came on board, I found out that we never had a centralized student academic support office
  • SALT office (Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques) – used to support students with learning disabilities. How can we adopt and adapt some of the techniques that worked there?
  • We were using siloed participant data that was not very helpful. It was not transformative and it didn’t tell us much.
  • We came to Civitas for help.
  • In 2009, U of A opened doors to the “Think Tank” to streamline and centralize a number of academic support services offered by nationally certified tutors; mission is to empower UA students by providing a positive environment where they can master the skills needed to become successful lifelong learners.
  • In one year, nearly 11,000 students make more than 70,000 visits and spend 85,000+ hours with support staff.

Think Tank Impact

  • Illume Impact used PPSM to measure 2.7%(pp) overall life in persistence for students using the writing center
  • 3.4% (pp) increase for 1st year students
  • Less than 10% of 1st year students taking advantage of this service!
  • These results will inform strategic campaigns to offer Think Tank services to students as part of first-year experience.
  • 8.2% persistence increase for students who were most at risk

Taking Initiative With Confidence

  • Sharing impact findings with academic colleges to discuss the need for increased referrals to Think Tank.
  • PPSM has changed the conversation with faculty who want rigorous data.
  • Bolstering credibility and validity to Think Tank services.

Austin Community College

Highland Campus is home to the ACCelerator, one of the largest high-tech learning environments in the country.

“The Accelerator”

  • Provides access to 600+ desktop computer stations spread over 32,000 square feet, surrounded by classrooms and study rooms.
  • Offers redesigned DevEd math courses powered by learning software with an onsite faculty members, tutors and academic coaches to increase personalization and engagement
  • Additional support services are offered, including non-math tutoring, advising, financial aid, supplemental instruction, and peer tutoring.
  • During the 2015-16 year, the ACCelerator served over 13,000 unique students in well over 170,000 interactions.

Accelerator Impact

  • Students who visit the lab at least once each term persist at a higher rate.
  • 4x persistence impact found for DevEd students.
  • Part-time DevEd students and DevEd students with the lowest persistence predictions had even better outcomes.
  • 6.15% increase in persistence for students visiting the learning lab.
  • Results are informing strategic decisions about creating similar learning spaces at other campuses.
  • Impact results have helped validate ACC data and in-house analyses
  • Discussions with math faculty continue to strengthen the developmental math redesign
  • Persistence results leading to further investigation of other metrics related to accelerated learning, particularly for DevEd students.
  • For this kind of approach to work, silos need to be broken down.




By Paul Schantz

CSUN Director of Web & Technology Services, Student Affairs. husband, father, gamer, part time aviator, fitness enthusiast, Apple fan, and iguana wrangler.

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