SightLine recently had the opportunity to attend the Great Lakes Regional Student Success conference at Oakland University. The energy around having hundreds of passionate professionals discussing student success was infectious and inspiring!
Throughout the sessions, there was much discussion around having a student-ready campus versus campus-ready students, stemming from the book Becoming a Student-Ready College (McNair, Cooper, McDonald & Major, 2016).
What does this mean? In a nutshell, the book challenges the conventional notion that students are not ready for college and offers a new perspective for institutions to create value and the space for all students to succeed. For example, is your institution expecting students to learn a brand new language (bursar, registrar, chancellor, oh my!) when they step on campus? If so, this can disproportionately affect first generation and underserved populations.
Another conference theme was the use of high-impact practices (HIPs) as a retention strategy. Originally identified by George Kuh (2008), HIPs promote deep learning through student engagement. Some examples are first year seminars, learning communities, undergraduate research and internships. Knowing when and how to implement HIPs to which student populations can be challenging for institutions, since not all students respond as favorably to each practice. Fortunately, SightLine’s proactive retention approach specializes in segmenting at-risk student populations and crafting the ideal intervention strategy for those students- no guesswork required from the institution! Another bonus: our approach identifies at-risk students one to two semesters ahead of when traditional flagging methods identify at-risk students.
One technique that was notably not discussed as an effective strategy was “nudging”. Many out of the box student success technology solutions promote “nudging”, or sending frequent automated notifications, to keep students more engaged. While student communication is very important, some institutions are finding that impersonal automated notifications informing students they have missed class too many times or failed an exam can have the opposite effect than they intended.
Similarly, disappointing results coming from the Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success initiative (iPass), funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “raised questions about the feasibility of using purely data-driven approaches to quantify whether a student is likely to succeed or fail”. Here at SightLine, we do not believe simply using a data dashboard or automated notifications will increase student retention. We offer a holistic approach to retention that combines data modeling with customized research-based interventions at a fraction of the cost of big box technologies.
Do you want to increase student retention? Contact us to start a conversation on how we can partner to bring your institution success!
Kuh, G. (2008). High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter. Association of American Colleges and Universities
McNair, T., Cooper, M., McDonald, N. & Major, T. (2016). Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success. Jossey-Bass.