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they're sitting on a wealth of useful information about incom-
ing students. Sharing this information with student affairs
departments, faculty and administrators keeps the chain of
communication intact and alerts those departments to a
student's potential risk factors. Armed in advance, schools
are starting to address students' support needs actively,
rather than waiting and responding to a crisis.
Sometimes this means alerting the appropriate department
when there are risk factors in a student's files. Based on
retention feedback, Grove City began to ask students during
recruiting interviews to describe an experience where they
felt the situation was hopeless and how they persevered
through the problem. If a student doesn't have an example,
this is "a huge red flag," Gibbs said. "We let Student Life and
Learning know ahead of time, so they are able to kind of
monitor those students and make sure they're okay."
Valdosta State University in Georgia has taken the
active approach a step further, by giving faculty access to
data on students' risk factors. Brian Haugabrook, interim
CIO, connected several different systems to make the
data user friendly and accessible.
According to Andy Clark, VP for enrollment management,
"On the first day when faculty members see their class, they
can see a picture of the students in the class. They can also
see if they have any risk indicators, if it's a math or reading
class." The system, Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise
Edition with Endeca as the user interface for data analysis,
also connects to Degree Works, so faculty can see where
students stand in regard to their degree program.
Using Endeca, Valdosta State has also uncovered previ-
ously unidentified and unsupported at-risk students. Hauga-
brook reported that Valdosta's director of advising dragged
and dropped different combinations of factors in Endeca
and, in the process, identified a population of minority
females who had an almost 50 percent chance of failing.
"With this information, we can create a program that is tai-
lored to help them succeed," he said. The school has also
developed a summer bridge program that helps targeted
students in classes they're most likely to struggle with.
At St. Bonaventure, a freshman foundations program
supports students who were accepted to the school based
on their perceived, but as yet unfulfilled, academic poten-
tial. Sinsabaugh said that the more detailed, more per-
sonal profiles the school develops for students during
recruitment makes it more confident about admitting stu-
dents who are academically promising but don't have the
record to prove it.
Student behavior on campus is another rich source of data
that can be used to help students succeed. If a student
begins to miss class, for example, the appropriate depart-
ment is alerted, and someone contacts the student to find
out what's wrong. At Valdosta, a "warm bed check" by stu-
dent housing found two students with flu in the first month
the retention tools were in use. Not only did this enable the
school to get the students checked out by student health
services, but the information was captured in the students'
files, alerting their teachers that their absences were legit.
When students behave in ways that have been identified
as risky, Valdosta uses its Web portal to push important
resources to the students. For example, Haugabrook noted
that students who use the printers in the library have
almost 20 points higher chance of staying on track than
those who don't. Similarly, using the rec center or eating
breakfast are also success indicators. When students fail
to do these things, they get targeted "ads" or learning
packets for those resources on the school portal.
"We track every click. If they click on an ad, we don't
keep giving them the ad," Haugabrook said.
Increased data access combined with timely notification
appears to be working. "We're seeing a spike at the tutor-
ing center starting in the second week of class rather than
after the second month," Haugabrook said. "They're start-
ing early, before it's too late."
Michelle Fredette is a freelance writer based in Portland, OR.
The New CIO
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