The Challenge: Deliver on the mission to provide holistic services that support the success of every student every day.
The Strategy: Adopt an integrated and holistic student success management model and implement a unified student success platform to make personalized support feasible at scale.
The Outcomes: An 8% increase in retention, improved advising efficiency, and more effective cross-functional collaboration.
Northwest Missouri State University (Northwest), a regional public university with 8,500 students, is committed to ensuring the success of “every student, every day.”
But dispersed student information across multiple systems made implementing an integrated and collaborative student success network challenging. Faculty and staff needed ways to easily communicate and access student data in one place so they had the shared context they needed to meaningfully help students.
To realize their mission to support the success of every student, every day, Northwest’s leaders fostered a shared culture of holistic student care. They also invested in technologies to provide their teams with easy access to actionable student information and streamlined workflows they needed to sustainably deliver holistic support to all students.
Before we had the Civitas Learning platform, we could only see part of a student’s experience. It was like seeing a student in a profile. To advise students effectively, we needed to see the whole picture.
— Terri Vogel,
Registrar, Northwest Missouri State University
The Challenge: Holistic Support for All Difficult to Achieve with Limited Staff, Siloed Systems, and Dispersed Student Information
Northwest’s student success model relies on successful collaboration and communication between faculty, advisors, and student support units, such as the bursar’s office, financial aid, diversity and inclusion, the registrar’s office, and the athletics department.
Before implementing a unified student success platform, it was difficult to see the full picture of a student’s interactions across campus. “Before we had the Civitas Learning platform, we could only see part of a student’s experience. It was like seeing a student in profile,” says Terri Vogel, Registrar at Northwest. “To advise students effectively, we needed to see the whole picture.”
To achieve an integrated and holistic student support network, leaders understood that faculty and staff needed one place to easily document their student interactions and access important student data. Northwest needed the right infrastructure and processes to reach the level of coordination to support students holistically. Student success professionals worked hard but required the right relationships, processes, and systems to scale their efforts.
The Strategy: Support Proactive Student Services with Actionable Analytics and Streamlined Workflows
As Northwest set out to improve its student success efforts, it adopted an integrated and holistic student success management model to support the student’s academic journey from start to finish.
At the center of this work was developing a campuswide student success philosophy and implementing a coordinated and integrated student success network to streamline the student experience and provide personalized service to each student.
Step One: Cultivate a campuswide student success philosophy that promotes holistic support for all students.
An important element of Northwest’s success is cultivating a shared student success philosophy across the institution. Dr. Allison Hoffmann, Assistant Vice President for Admissions and Student Success, shared that aligning the efforts of faculty and staff around student success required a philosophical approach that everyone can easily understand and implement.
“Our mission is to focus on student success, every student, every day,” Hoffmann says. “That is something our campus colleagues really buy into. We put together a model and a philosophy of what that means for our student service areas working most closely with students.”
To bring this shared philosophy to life, Northwest invested in the Civitas Learning Student Impact Platform to provide frontline staff with the tools needed to focus time on personalized student support. Faculty and staff can now access a comprehensive picture of each student. Alerts, appointment notes, relative LMS engagement, changes in persistence prediction, and text and email communications provide a more complete, real-time picture of student support efforts.
“We’ve always known that holistic advising is the right approach, but the Civitas Learning platform allows us to actually do that, to actually address the whole student and know what’s happening with them in and out of the classroom. We wouldn’t be able to do our work without a system like this.””
— Leslie Abarr-Cuenca,
Director of Student Success, Northwest Missouri State University
According to Dr. Hoffmann, one element of Northwest’s success was the time and consideration that went into identifying all student data elements to include in the student profile. They carefully curated everything necessary for faculty and staff in one place to effectively coordinate student care across campus. “We thought a lot about what information we wanted to include to make it more efficient for our advisors and a better experience for our students. If you don’t have to log into multiple systems for key student information, you can focus on what’s going on with the student, what the student needs, and how you can help them be successful.”
Step Two: Ease cross-functional collaboration with streamlined workflows and unified student success systems.
In addition to establishing a shared approach to student success, delivering holistic student support at scale requires that faculty and staff can easily access a complete picture of a student’s journey. Wherever a student goes to seek guidance and support on campus, staff need access to a single source of information about that student.
Northwest’s student services teams review students’ academic history and real-time progress, document their appointments and interactions with students, message students via text and email, and manage alerts in one system. They can document their own interactions and actions to contribute to the full picture of that student’s experience.
Leslie Abarr-Cuenca, Director of Student Success, shares that access to a comprehensive view of the student provides her team with the information they need to consistently provide holistic support. “We’ve always known that holistic advising is the right approach, but the Civitas Learning platform allows us to actually do that, to actually address the whole student and let us know what’s happening with them in and out of the classroom. We wouldn’t be able to do our work without a system like this.”
Real-time academic information and actionable analytics help Abarr-Cuenca and her team know which students need support sooner. “It’s very easy to get a quick look at students who need to be on your radar,” Abarr-Cuenca says. “We review the student’s level of LMS engagement relative to their peers daily. It’s critical to quickly see what classes a student is in and how they’re doing in those classes.”
The Outcomes: An integrated approach to student success improves staff efficiency, strategic effectiveness, and student outcomes.
Implementing an integrated and holistic student success management model to support students’ academic journeys from start to finish has resulted in many positive outcomes:
- Improved retention by 8% between 2016- 2021, exceeding their retention goal by achieving an 80% overall retention rate from Fall 2021 to Fall 2022.
- Increased collaboration, strengthened communication, and improved alignment across departments.
- A better understanding of the entire student journey and the ability to identify issues and remove barriers to success.
- Streamlined workflows that reduce administrative burdens and improve efficiencies to make holistic advising feasible.
Adopting a campus-wide approach and understanding student success laid an important foundation for aligning campus efforts, increasing collaboration, and strengthening communication across departments.
Empowering staff and faculty with a streamlined platform and a single place to gather and share information makes it easier to see the full picture of a student’s journey and deliver the personalized support students need. By taking this intentional approach, Northwest’s student success teams are delivering on their mission to ensure the success of every student every day.