How Actionable Insights Move the Needle On Student Success

How Actionable Analytics Move the Needle On Student Success

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Have you found yourself sifting through pages of reports until the numbers all blur together? Have you poured over last term’s persistence rates and thought, “well, what do we do now?” No one doubts student data’s value, but what makes it valuable? Without a way to translate all of your data into actionable analytics, you’ll end up with a student success plan full of best guesses and maybes.

Analytics can be more than just a tool to measure past events. They can and should provide institution-specific insights to help your team better understand a student’s journey, identify predictors of success, and surface opportunities to engage and motivate students to stay enrolled and graduate on time.  

Actionable analytics empower higher ed leaders to understand what impacts success and what interventions work for specific student populations. This intelligence enables your team to make informed decisions to create better outcomes for students, programs, and institutions.

Actionable Analytics Reveal What Works for Student Success

An important first step is using analytics to better understand a student’s journey or broader trends. But to truly move the needle on student success, your data platform needs to go one step further and enable your team to answer questions like— How can we guide or support students towards the desired behaviors? And what actions are we able to take to make an impact on student success?

For example, routine data analysis might surface that part-time students are less likely than full-time students to persist. But a data platform with predictive analytics and initiative analysis capabilities can take this critical insight further by revealing what specific interventions, programs, and practices are impactful for part-time students who persist at your institution. This approach brings data to life by translating endless reports into real, tangible action.

Actionable analytics help your team identify the actions part-time students can take to succeed. With the use of a data platform, you might learn those part-time students who take a variety of course subjects each semester have a much higher likelihood of persistence than those who don’t. Taking it one step further, advisors can use this information to take action based on precise data-informed recommendations for part-time students to help move the needle on their success.

How Florida Atlantic University Improved Graduation Rates with Actionable Analytics

We’ve seen partner institutions, like Florida Atlantic University (FAU), that collect and proactively use actionable analytics to inform proactive interventions feel confident in their student support models and create positive outcomes over time. With clarity about what works, institutional leaders can work together to continuously improve the delivery and management of programs rather than periodically making sweeping changes. This day-to-day iteration enables them to deploy precise student success strategies in the context of their students, policies, and practices.  

When Florida introduced performance-based funding, FAU ranked second to last. Only 66% of the university’s first-year students progressed to their second year with a GPA of 2.0 or higher; six-year graduation rates were as low as 40%. As a result, FAU lost 7 million dollars in educational support. 

FAU’s leadership recognized that radically improving student success outcomes required equipping the entire institution with analytic insights. This realization led to several cross-functional teams, including a strategic workgroup, central data governance team, student engagement team, and student success networks. Together these teams used data to understand student experiences and the effectiveness of student success practices and initiatives. This integration of actionable analytics across their campus allowed FAU to take data-activated, coordinated action to help their students succeed.

FAU’s close look at their programs and policies’ impact on their students empowered them to remove barriers they didn’t see before. FAU’s use of actionable analytics unlocked the true power and potential of the university’s student impact data. They created a data analytics infrastructure and culture that equipped the entire university to understand their students’ journeys better and provide precise interventions to help them succeed. As a result, within two years — and against all odds and expectations — FAU ranked at the very top of the performance funding model, reclaimed $7 million in lost funding, and was awarded additional dollars to continue their student success work.

Move Beyond Routine Data Analysis

Moving beyond one-dimensional data analysis to actionable analytics empowers leaders to continually track and measure the efficacy of interventions and initiatives at their institutions. The ability to monitor institution-specific and student-specific trends provides leaders with a better understanding of what is working and for whom, enabling them to identify impactful student success efforts and make data-informed decisions that move the needle on student success.

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