The U.S. Department of Education has announced that the University Innovation Alliance, of which the University of Central Florida is a member, was selected as the recipient of the First in the World competition to encourage innovation among institutions of higher education. Georgia State University, on behalf of the alliance, was awarded $8.9 million to conduct a four-year research study on the group’s 11-member campuses around the nation to evaluate the effectiveness of advising in increasing retention, progression, and graduation rates for low-income and first-generation students.

“Today, more institutions are turning to data and analytics to help personalize advising and identify struggling students before they get too far off track,” said Bridget Burns, executive director of the alliance. “Our mission is to test new ideas, understand what works, and scale effective innovations across the country to ensure that more students have the supports they need to complete college. The First in the World grant will enable us to study the work already taking place at our 11 institutions, and test best practices using data analytics that we can share with and beyond the alliance.”

The project will study 10,000 students who are exposed to an intensive menu of proactive, analytics-based advising interventions at the UIA universities. Through research and analysis, the study will examine the benefits, especially for at-risk students, of introducing systematic, proactive advising.

“This grant illustrates why the alliance is so important. Over the next four years, our eleven institutions will produce groundbreaking evidence illustrating the impact of predictive analytics on student success that will have national significance,” said Dr. Tim Renick, vice president for enrollment and project lead at Georgia State University.

As part of the study, students at each of the universities will be selected by random assignment and will receive traditional advising services along with intensive, proactive advisement to help them establish individualized academic maps, real-time alerts prompted by a system of analytics-based tracking when they may be struggling, and timely, targeted advising interventions to get them back on the appropriate academic path.

Launched just one year ago, the UIA is a consortium of public research universities established to help more students from all socioeconomic backgrounds graduate from college. This year, all institutions are implementing or scaling the use of data analytics and advising to improve student retention and college completion.

In addition to UCF, the University Innovation Alliance includes: Arizona State, Georgia State, Iowa State, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon State, Purdue and the universities of California at Riverside, Kansas, and Texas at Austin.