Tag Archives: student success

Bridging the Divide Between IT and Student Success

Presenters

  • Michael Berman, Vice President for Technology & Innovation, California State University, Channel Islands
  • John Suess, Vice President of IT & CIO, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Maria Thompson, President, Coppin State University
  • Timothy Renick, VP for Enrollment Management & Student Success, Vice Provost Georgia State University

NOTE: any errors, omissions or inadvertent misrepresentations are completely my fault. This conversation moved quickly and there was a lot of audience participation my fingers weren’t quite quick enough to catch – I beg your indulgence, dear reader. – Paul

Michael introduced the panel and panelists briefly talked about what they do at a very high level.

What does student success mean to you or your institution?

MT: it’s the reason we exist. Coppin State was right across the street from the unrest in 2015. We emphasize getting students enrolled and off to a strong start.

TR: practically, it’s about closing gaps among underserved populations (which are growing).  I believe we have a moral and social obligation to deploy fixes that actually work.

JS: we’re setting goals for retention and graduation that help us focus on what we need to do to “move the needle.” Stepping back, we have to consider what’s useful to the student long-term. Are we providing experiences that will be useful later in life?

MB: 5 years ago student success was defined idiosyncratically depending on the campus. In the past, we’ve prided ourselves in the CSU as being good at access, but often we left it up to the student to succeed. Some of our metrics have been: how many graduate in 4 years, how many graduate in 6 years? CSU’s GI2025 sets goals for each campus.

JS: what is transfer student success? We don’t institutionally have benchmarks that measure this.

MT: How many of us look at what student success means for the students?

TR: there are measures (like moving up from one economic quartile to another) that are important for our students that are very useful. However, that particular statistic may not resonate for everyone equally.

JS: we’re beginning to incorporate co-curricular data, but we’re not as good at quantifying what that actually means.

MT: co-curricular does show impact, but our average age is 27 (and a large number who are 65), so we could define this based on the multi-generational populations.

If student success is a team activity, what is your role in supporting the team’s success?

TR: I started in enrollment management; we had a student success committee that would meet to discuss this topic..not just once a month, but every week. Challenges for one area were a challenge for all areas to consider. Something that used to be the purview of say the vice provost, was now something that

MT: we put together a student success council with representatives from every division on campus, including faculty, students and staff that were empowered to take action based on data. If that means cancelling a program that doesn’t work, then that’s something we would do. TR: how do you message to your faculty “we’re going to do more than just talk about things?” MT: I look at the data EVERY SINGLE DAY. I memorize those numbers and I refer to them constantly.

JS: UMBC is in a different place. We’re a more traditional organization with shared governance and thus more dispersed. We just set up a persistence committee that meets every two weeks; we use the Civitas platform for data and feedback. One of the benefits of being in IT is that you get a “sense” for what’s going on across the campus, which puts you in a position where you can provide guidance and advice on how to streamline things.

MB: IT often has all the responsibility, but none of the authority. We kind of a universal support for pretty much the entire campus.

JS: we want to build the tools that allow students to take control of their own pathway through their experience.

MT: I think it’s important for the CIO to report to the president! (applause). I see IT as the circulatory system of the campus.

How does your state leverage your student success initiative?

TR: Georgia State has been leveraging predictive analytics for some time. We knew we needed more academic advisors, and we got funding for it, with the understanding that the best practices we learned would spread across the state.

MB: we’re rethinking the way we use our SIS in pretty fundamental ways (they’re bloated and slow). We’re trying to change to be more flexible and agile, but we’re still in the planning stages.

JS: one thing University of Maryland has done effectively is course redesign, which is a role that systems can effectively play.

TR: we’ve taken advantage of chatbots, but it’s not about the technology but the knowledge gained; for example, 80% of the questions asked of which are about financial aid.

JS: there are different models between Student Affairs and IT:  strong partnerships with IT, developing core competencies. Some of these conversations are difficult.

MT: there is technology fatigue for a lot of users, so I have to be mindful of the people who are keeping their eye on the big picture. We need to time these things so that they are not disruptive.

MB: we don’t need point solutions, we need API-based tools that will allow for more effective integrations and aggregation of data.

What’s one big mistake that campuses make when trying to use technology to promote student success?

JS: you need to “balance the ingredients in the cake.” Buying tech products needs to be balanced against adding staff to support it.

MB: you can’t alway rely on the tech to solve every problem.

(Audience question) What kind of data makes a president wake up at 2:00 AM?

MT: my dashboard has all enrollment, student success data, number of applicants, yield and more. We’ve opened that data up to every single employee at every level of the institution. We have training and role-appropriate drill-down, but everyone can view success data in the aggregate.

Student Engagement and Inclusive Campus Environments – From Magical Thinking to Strategy and Intentionality

Presenter:  Professor Shaun R. Harper, Ph.D, University of Pennsylvania

@DrShaunHarper | #CSUNmagic | works.bepress.com/sharper Terry Piper Lecture Series | Organizing Committee Members

This is the fourth annual event for the Terry Piper Lecture Series.  Previous speakers have included Dr. Laura Rendon, Dr. Vincent Tinto, and Dr. Marcia Baxter-Magolda.  I personally had the pleasure of reporting directly to Dr. Terry Piper when I started working at CSUN back in 2006.  I make sure to attend this event every year.

“Change is inevitable, progress is optional” – Dr. Terry Piper

Started faculty career at USC, and talked briefly about his relationship with Dr. Brandon Martin and Debra Hammond.  Before becoming a faculty member, Shaun was involved with Student Affairs and credits Debra’s leadership as a major inspiration to him.  While Shaun did not know Terry,  he acknowledged his work (“I feel as if I knew him based on legacy”).

Student success requires a lot from a university – it doesn’t happen out of thin air.

Some Common Occurrences of Magical Thinking Assumptions

  • The assumption that powerful educational outcomes will be automatically manufactured through student-initiated engagement with peers who are different.
  • More racial diversity = increased sense of belonging for students of color
  • The curriculum will diversify itself
  • Students will engage themselves
  • All 40,000+ CSUN undergraduates will be learned persons who are prepared for a democratic society
  • Students will confront their own biases

Dr. Harper and his graduate students did a content study of mission statements of universities with enrollments over 20,000 students. They made some interesting promises, i.e. students will be prepared for a global economy, ready for a diverse and inclusive workforce, etc.  The reality is that cultural barriers put student groups on the fringe of the university experience.

Diversity is often reflected in the student body, but this is not sufficient.  It needs to be reflected across the institution.  However, we see cultural clustering that effectively perpetuates racial segregation.  If students do not feel substantively engaged, they leave.  This can produce “accidental” racists, sexists, and homophobes.  Universities are often the most guilty institutions in perpetuating these attitudes.  Overwhelmingly, these attitudes are from men.

Dr. Harper shared some learning from his work:

  • Deliberate strategies that bring principles of good educational practice to fruition on college and university campuses.
  • Individual and Collective Reflection:  What am I doing to involve all students equitably?  When was the last time I read about these principles and intentionally attempted to implement them.
  • Remediation.  Deficits are not all the students’!  It’s completely possible to become an educator without ever teaching students.  We’re now four year into a study, the race and student affairs project.  What have we learned?  People learned in their student dev theory course about a racial identity model from the early 1970s!  It doesn’t teach how to deal with racial inequity issues.
  • Literacy.  You must read to keep up with developments within the field.  I often have people come up to me and tell me that they can’t read because they don’t have the time to.  This is not intentionality!
  • Collaboration with students
  • Cross-sectional partnerships
  • An actionable written document.  So many campuses do not have this.
  • Assessment.  How do you measure success?

Intentionality Examples

  • The professor who does not wait for the one Native American student in his class to approach him about research opportunities, but instead invites her to have a conversation about how their mutual interests might be collaboratively pursued via a research project.
  •  The academic advisor who asks commuter and part-time students how they would prefer to receive information about engagement opportunities, then communicates this information in a systematic way to the campus activities office and later checks the database to ensure her advisees are receiving info in ways they requested.
  •  The office or department leader that predetermines with colleagues who will attend which sessions at a conference, insists everyone takes copious notes, provides time during the next staff meeting to recap and collectively determine adaptability of ideas from sessions, and then signs reimbursements.

Real-World Examples from the Study

The Lumina Foundation provided a grant to work with 5 institutions to do something about enhancing and improving Black Male success – Institutional Change for Black Male Student Success Project.  Those campuses were:  UCLA, Stanford, University of Wisconsin, Community Colleges of Philadelphia, North Carolina Central University.  Teams from each university had to include:  two tenured faculty, at least one cabinet member, at least two students (black undergraduate men).  These teams created the ingredients/artifacts of the intentionality and strategies mentioned above, and then took them back to their home campuses.

At UCLA, their opportunity was to address the low first-to-second year black male retention rates, plus campus size and experiences with racial stereotypes.  The team included tenured faculty, senior admins from academic affairs and student affairs, grad students, staff from various student support services across campus, and black students.  Key components:  bringing resources to black male students (“blacklimated”).  Increased social and cultural capital via “deans day” where students could sit with their deans (deans actually gave out cell phone numbers).  Stereotype threat strategizing:  role of grad students was that they shared their experiences for effectively responding to issues (i.e. microagressions).  Introducing black male students to their first/only black male professor.  Result:  across 3 cohorts of 77 students, all but one returned to UCLA for a sophomore year.

North Carolina Central University opportunity:  black male six year graduation rate was 27 percent.  Disaggregated data showed that honors students that received additional support were most successful, and black male students who received 2.7 GPA in high school were least likely to persist.  VPSA, tenured faculty members, black undergraduates.  Key Components:  strategic “scholar” languaging (call them “Centennial Scholars”).  Apply what works for honors students to the Centennial Scholars.  Residential learning community with centralized support, RAs, and resources just for them (also moved into super-shiny residence halls like the honors students).  Result:  across 3 cohorts of 90 undergraduates, only two students left before completing their bachelor’s degrees.

Each institution received only $20,000 to accomplish these results!

Post Script:  Black Male initiatives are in vogue right now, and this I think is dangerously close to a form of “magical thinking.”