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Aug. 19, 2015

With the fall semester comes a shared focus on helping our students achieve success inside and outside of our classrooms and research labs. Together, we’ve launched several initiatives over the past year to better guide students’ path to graduation.

These initiatives are helping us achieve ambitious goals for student success, such as increasing first-year retention rates, reducing students’ time to graduation, minimizing excess credit hours and increasing the number of students attaining degrees or certificates.

Working with our partner institutions in both the University Innovation Alliance and the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities, we’ve heard a lot about “big data” — how large-scale analytics can help us better predict and improve individual success.

Because of these successes, we are starting the semester with a new university-wide program that harnesses the power of predictive analytics. This new program is called the Education Advisory Board (EAB) Student Success Collaborative, and it will help us turn transactional data into actionable insight.

What does that mean? Advisers, faculty members and student support staff members will be able to see in real-time which students need intervention and access a powerful set of data-driven tools to guide academic and career advising.

Online dashboards will work with existing advising tools, giving us a 360-degree view of each student and alert advisers if a student is at risk of not performing well in their current or planned coursework. The new tools also will help faculty and staff direct at-risk students to support services available across the university and help us follow their progress.

Initiatives like these support other new programs, such as “Think 30” — a campaign that encourages students to take 30 credit hours annually to graduate within four years. And myKnight’s Audit, slated for Spring 2016, will provide students, advisers and faculty access to students’ real-time academic records and online links to help them register for courses.

Together, these tools will equip our students with the information they need to be successful — while ensuring our faculty and advising staff can provide the support students deserve.

The new Student Success Collaborative tools will complement the work we’ve done to date with other student analytics organizations like Civitas Learning, which has helped us better understand predictors of student performance challenges and the impact of semester-to-semester GPA shifts.

What’s Next?

More than 30 staff and faculty members will help develop workflow, training and coordination efforts to roll out the Student Success Collaborative to our campus community over the next nine months. You can learn more on our project website. Information about other advising initiatives can be found on the Think 30 website.

Of course, with any initiative, our success depends on your involvement. I am excited about the project leadership team we have in place and look forward to this group working with our faculty and staff in the coming months.

Nothing is more powerful than the opportunity to change lives — and now we will have stronger tools to do just that.