UCF was recently tapped to participate in a national training program that strengthens the capacity for data-based research among Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).
This initiative builds evidence-based research through data analysis to promote the success of Black and Latino students in postsecondary education.
The Leveraging Big Data to Achieve Equity program offers the three selected faculty access to restricted state and federal data as a lens for reviewing current practices and policies at UCF. The end goal of the analysis is to improve educational and career outcomes. It also serves as training in data analysis techniques faculty can use to develop future projects measuring the success of minority serving programs.
The interdisciplinary nature of the project brings together two faculty from the Department of Statistics and Data Analysis in the College of Sciences, Assistant Professor Mengyu Xu and Associate Professor Larry Tang, as well as Assistant Professor Yue “Gurt” Ge from the School of Public Administration in the College of Community Innovation and Education.
The project is led by the United Negro College Fund, Excelencia in Education, and the Coleridge Initiative, and is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“I am thrilled that our faculty are engaged in this important national project in support of HBCUs and HSIs. This is a great example of what it means to serve with intentionality through research.” — Cyndia Morales Muñiz ’13EdD, director of HSI Culture and Partnerships.
“I am thrilled that our faculty are engaged in this important national project in support of HBCUs and HSIs. This is a great example of what it means to serve with intentionality through research,” says Cyndia Morales Muñiz ’13EdD, director of HSI Culture and Partnerships.
UCF was named an HSI by the U.S. Department of Education in 2019, putting it in the company of 569 other U.S. institutions. But, as Muñiz, notes, UCF is one of only 24 institutions certified with the Seal of Excelencia by Excelencia in Education, the nation’s premier authority on efforts accelerating Latino student success in higher education.
“An enrollment percentage gives us the stamp as an HSI, but we have to hold ourselves accountable and give meaning to that,” Muñiz says. “One way of doing that is by involving our faculty in projects like these where they can use their expertise to serve our community.”
Because the project is fresh at UCF the three faculty members are still completing training and familiarizing themselves with the database. Exact outcomes remain to be determined, but the trio are eager to get started.
Tang appreciates the chance to access data that’s not publicly available and explore trends on the national level. He anticipates the metrics generated by this study will be beneficial for future funding applications.
Ge brings a different background from his statistician colleagues, but frequently encounters instances in his emergency management research that a deeper understanding of student statistics would help. He’s excited about the chance to collaborate and deepen his big data knowledge.
Similarly, Xu is eager to branch out from her world of hard numbers and explore topics like sociology and community impact. It’s the latter opportunity that truly drives her interest.
“I’m excited to find ways we can increase the success of our students,” she says.