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Integrating the Civitas Learning Platform with Salesforce


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Northern Arizona University aims to increase six-year graduation rates to 57.5 percent and retention to 80 percent by 2025. “We believe student success is everyone’s responsibility,” said Margot Saltonstall, director of Analytics & Assessment, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Assessment at Northern Arizona University.

“Civitas Learning is the only product in the marketplace that was willing and able to do this kind of full integration/ customization with Salesforce for Northern Arizona University. We’re excited about the power this gives us to help every student.” – Margot Saltonstall

NAU leadership knew that to meet their ambitious goals, they needed to approach student success differently. They needed to align the strategic goals to the realities of the front lines and find a way to move from a home-grown predictive analytics model to a fully-integrated advising system. They wanted an holistic view of the student experience through integrated advising so everyone working with students could benefit from a deeper understanding. “There is a very natural partnership between our strategic goals and the way people at NAU approach their work.”

Starting Small with Home Grown Predictive Modeling

The university realized several years ago that success in increasing retention and persistence would require a combination of strategic changes to people, processes and technology. They began with a home-grown analytics system that was working well to help identify students in need of outreach in the first-time, full-time cohort, but it quickly became apparent their model would be difficult to scale. “When we saw what was possible with our first-year students, we wanted to scale beyond that to our entire student body and help them all the most we could,” said Saltonstall.

That need, coupled with the vision of a new president, led them to partner with Civitas Learning so they could have campus-wide predictions to support students from beginning to completion.

Changes to Teams and Processes to Allow for Precision Support

In implementing Civitas Learning’s Student Success Platform and precision support solution, Saltonstall and team wanted to be sure they were approaching student support holistically.

NAU identified analysts and experts in departments across campus and trained them on Illume, the signature app in the precision support solution. “One analyst is assigned to each of our six retention teams. The cross-functional teams focus on a specific student segment such as first-year, transfer, online, under-performing or under-prepared student segments. The analysts help each team formulate research questions, look at the data for opportunities to act, and then inform the team’s strategies,” said Saltonstall.

When implementing Inspire, (the solution’s advising app) they chose to look beyond only advising teams. NAU wanted an integration so that student affairs teams would be co-viewing and collaborating with advising teams. The goal was to ensure each student was given the best opportunity to benefit from precise outreach, as well as to be provided with the appropriate support services, all while creating a support team that had the complete view of student outreach.

Watch this video with Margot Satltonstall to learn more about the integration at Northern Arizona University.

Civitas Learning & Salesforce Integration to Support iPASS

Adding fuel to this evolution of advising was NAU’s iPASS (Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success) grant. “As part of our iPASS grant, it was very important to fully integrate advising. That is when we decided to bring in the Salesforce CRM. As we stood that up, we developed a vision for replicating the view we see in Inspire into Salesforce. But as we dug into that, we realized there were things we would benefit more from if we simply linked to Civitas Learning. Our desire was greater integration throughout, and not having separate systems and initiatives. So, we are working to fully integrate Salesforce with our Civitas Learning platform,” said Saltonstall. To integrate advising they removed old tools such as their Electronic Advising Notebook and other one-off tools existing across campus and transitioned everyone into the Salesforce CRM.

This means NAU can now integrate predictions from the Civitas Learning platform into Salesforce to inform actions and share insights across the student support ecosystem, empowering staff to know which students are at risk before it’s too late. They are enhancing personalized advising, proactive coaching and student engagement. The Salesforce outreach data can create a multi-directional feed and be incorporated into Civitas Learning analytics to develop a more complete picture of what drives student success at NAU and allow them to test the impact of actions and outreach. “Moving interaction data from Salesforce into our Civitas prediction model is our next big step,” said Saltonstall.

“Civitas Learning is the only product in the marketplace that was willing and able to do this kind of full integration/ customization with Salesforce for Northern Arizona University. We’re excited about the power this gives us to help every student,” said Saltonstall.

Interested in learning more about the Civitas Learning – Salesforce integration?

RELATED: View Webinar

This webinar explores considerations and strategies for making data actionable. Listen to a discussion around increasing effective collaboration across the student support network including an examination of technology, people and process.


Campus photo courtesy of Northern Arizona University

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