University of Missouri-Kansas City's Innovative Group Study Program Boosts Student Persistence

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (APRIL 16, 2019) — The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) today released the results of an ambitious effort to quantify the impact of student success initiatives, in collaboration with Civitas Learning. Designed to determine what works, and target resources at the most effective programs, the UMKC-Civitas Learning partnership was focused on identifying the best strategies to boost persistence among historically underrepresented minority students. According to data released today, the institution’s supplemental instruction program (which utilizes tailored group-study in lieu of remedial education) boosts student persistence by 7.8 percentage points.

“Like most institutions, we face the challenge of quickly and accurately evaluating the impact of our initiatives. By understanding the impact of a program that works on persistence — and helps us retain tuition — we can make a clear and compelling case for investments that are making a difference for our students,” said Barbara Bichelmeyer, provost at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “Civitas Learning enables us to quantify the impact of programs and translate data into strategies we can use to scale and replicate success.”

Although UMKC first pioneered its targeted, group-study program in the early 1970s, university leaders have struggled to quantify its impact. Using its patent-pending Impact analysis, in just hours, Civitas Learning was able to draw upon historically siloed data to identify a 7.8 percent overall increase in persistence for students who attended sessions three or more times each semester, compared to similar students who attended less than three sessions or not at all. The improvement was even more significant for part-time students and African American students in their first semester. Additionally, the analysis found a 9.9% overall increase in persistence for students who attend seven or more times each semester, indicating a potential to improve outcomes by encouraging students to make greater use of this resource.

The Civitas Learning analysis also shows that gains achieved through the institution’s supplemental instruction program should generate $590,000 in additional retained tuition per term, with the potential to generate an additional $1 million in revenue by encouraging students to attend group study sessions more frequently. Equipped with this evidence of the program’s success, UMKC is now proposing expanding the program to serve all first-year students — and using nudge campaigns — to reach students most likely to benefit from the program.

“This is about providing UMKC with insights that lead to actionable strategies so they can translate better data into quantifiable outcomes,” said Dr. Mark David Milliron, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer at Civitas Learning. “Their leadership is demonstrating what a data-informed approach to student academic support looks like.”

UMKC is part of a community of 375 colleges and universities worldwide using the Civitas Learning platform, solutions and services to engage and nudge students, guide course planning and class scheduling and support case management by advisors and faculty.


About Civitas Learning®: Civitas Learning’s student success intelligence platform leverages each institution’s unique data to help them chart the best course to improved outcomes for students. The platform is grounded in unparalleled work in data science, built into workflows with integrated applications, and implemented on site with seasoned strategic service teams. Today, Civitas Learning is a strategic partner to 375 colleges and universities, serving nearly 8 million students. Together with our growing community of partners, Civitas Learning is making the most of the world’s learning data to help graduate a million more students per year by 2025.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas CityThe University of Missouri-Kansas City, one of four University of Missouri universities, is a public university serving more than 16,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on its six-part mission: placing student success at the center; leading in life and health sciences; advancing urban engagement; excelling in visual and performing arts; embracing diversity; and promoting research and economic development. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, see us on Instagram and watch us on YouTube.

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