Connecting the Civitas: Highlights from the Illume Workshop in Austin, TX

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Earlier this month, student success champions and Illume power users came together at Civitas Learning headquarters in Austin, Texas for the spring Illume Workshop: Data-Inspired Strategies for Building a Student Support Plan.

The cohort was led by Dr. Lori McNabb through an iterative, step-by-step process to develop a holistic support plan for their selected student group. Teams spent two days interacting with peers, identifying key opportunities in Illume, and working alongside Civitas Learning experts to build holistic and actionable student support plans.

The attending teams represented nine colleges and universities from across the country – Bossier Parish Community College (LA), Coastline Community College (CA), El Paso Community College (TX), Greenville Technical College (SC), Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KY), Northeastern State University (OK), University of Texas Arlington (TX), Wallace State Community College (AL), and West Kentucky Community & Technical College (KY).

Leveraging Illume to Support Students

The first day opened with an afternoon working session focused on diving deep in Illume filters and powerful predictors. Teams worked with their Civitas facilitator, who guided them through effectively using these features. Equipped with the information, attendees discovered new opportunities for targeted, differentiated support with a select student group. Northeastern State University discovered a 16 percentage point (pp) difference in predicted persistence between their part-time students and the overall undergraduate population, while University of Texas Arlington identified FTIC students with less than 15 credits and in the lowest persistence “buckets” are 18 pp less likely to continue than the overall campus-based student body.

Attendees from Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) work with Carl Thorne-Thomsen (Senior Product Manager) to identify their student group in Illume.

Similarly, Wallace State found an opportunity to support their credential-seeking students with a 2.5 GPA or below who, when compared to overall credential-seeking students, are 16 pp less likely to persist. This insight was particularly powerful for the Wallace State team because their early alert system only calls attention to students who have a 2.0 GPA or lower.

Meanwhile, West Kentucky Community & Technical College (WKCTC) and Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) targeted their early career students for outreach. They looked specifically at those who have earned less than 30 credits and they discovered a 5 pp and 7 pp difference in likelihood to persist, respectively.

Applying Theory to Student Support Strategies

After finding their institution’s specific opportunity to improve student persistence, each team spent the morning of the second day conducting an inventory of their communication strategy, analyzing the student group’s experience, and identifying the best institutional resources to support the focus student group.

Participants’ work was informed by a modified interpretation of The Loss-Momentum Framework (developed by Completion by Design). They examined student-institution touch points as well as existing communication points over the course of a term for their selected student group. This helped them determine existing alignment and identify additional opportunities to communicate with their students. Teams then described what those touch points look like when they create or decrease momentum toward a student’s degree, and how the institution can intervene to both prevent decreased student momentum and reframe their mindset around challenges.

Northeastern State University (NSUOK) discusses the college experience of their part-time students with their group facilitator, Chuck Lamar (Training & Enablement Consultant).

Students’ desired attitudes and behaviors were then explored. The goal was to examine key student-institution engagements and assure that they encourage students to continue with their education. Participants utilized mindset and mattering theories to consider how to shift students’ beliefs from a fixed to a growth mindset, equipping them with the attitudes they need to overcome challenges.

Turning Insight to Action

Next, participants explored ways to build a student support plan from the insights they had uncovered. The workshop focused on nudging – one of several effective avenues for supporting the selected student group – at the right time, and with the right message.

Capitalizing on the idea that a loss of momentum can be both prevented and reframed, teams crafted two initial nudges for a touch point (example: final exams) by utilizing insight about the student experience, mindset and mattering theories, and institutional resources. Teams were also encouraged to discuss how to differentiate support based on student-specific persistence predictions and allocate the most intensive institutional resources to the students most in need.

Sharing Insights and Next Steps

At the end of the day each team shared their work with the rest of the cohort, and left the workshop with a comprehensive slide deck of their data-inspired student support plan. Teams were eager to get back to campus and take action – all planned to implement their student support plan, develop a full communication campaign, and replicate the newly learned process to identify other student groups for support. Some teams are also planning to report back their findings to other departments on campus and train other groups on the process.

Product workshops like these are a fundamental part of building momentum around utilizing Civitas Learning tools to improve student outcomes, bringing institutions together to share and learn from one another, and taking the right steps toward fulfilling each institution’s mission to help students succeed.

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