Impact and the Move from Ingredients to Recipes in Student Success

Civitas Learning Blog Catalytic Conversations

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Barb Bichelmeyer, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), and Julianna Frisch, Assistant to the President, Strategic Initiatives at Monroe Community College (MCC), have a story to tell. The story is grounded in each of their institution’s relentless pursuit of student success—helping more and more diverse students learn well and finish strong—and efforts to better understand of how their programs, practices, and services are impacting that work. Recently, I had the great pleasure of engaging these two thoughtful leaders from our partner community and diving deeper into their takes on student success innovation at their institutions. We began the conversation exploring the importance of moving from required reports to close-to-real-time and predictive data to fuel a true of “culture of care” with students. But we quickly moved into discussing concrete examples of what that means in practice. Barb shared the deep history of developing and championing Supplemental Instruction (SI) at UMKC, using near-peer student mentors to scaffold rising students in particularly challenging courses. While a known and celebrated program, they had never really scaled or strategically applied the strategy across the curriculum until they dug deeper into how SI has and could impact student persistence in the near and long term. Put simply, digging into the data with Impact analysis cleared the way internally for compelling conversations about how strategically investing in and expanding the program could have a profound return on both fiscal and student-success outcomes for the university. Julianna had a very similar story surrounding MCC’s work with their Center for Academic Reading. Their Impact analysis showed how expansion and targeting could further improve outcomes for their students. In addition, they have begun using Impact as a tool to help counter initiative fatigue—the creeping feeling that they are doing too many things, spread far too thin, not really making an impact at scale. In short, it has helped them catalyze conversations on doing more and doing less. They both, however, felt strongly that this work is not about measuring best practice vs. best practice. In the end, we can’t end up in a dialogue about dueling initiatives. We need to use these types of tools to move beyond debate about the ingredients toward explorations of the recipes for student success. Make no mistake, good ingredients matter, they argue. However, good recipes are what the ingredients are for in the first place. How do we pull the programs, pathways, services and systems together to create an enriching and successful student experience for those we serve? Barb talked about how they are using the data to weave SI into a family of strategies in diverse programs across the university. Julianna makes the case that CAR is but one of an array of support strategies they have to weave together to make a difference. Using Impact analysis, they now want to spend more time in the student success kitchen, learning more about how their ingredients work together and their recipes comes together. Exciting stuff! Take the time to take a listen to this podcast conversation with Barb and Julianna on iTunes here—particularly if you’re wrestling with the challenge of learning more about your ingredients and how they come together into recipes that seriously satisfy! For those who use SoundCloud, you can listen here:

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