The call to action “Addressing Student Success” is by no means a small or simple task. The response cannot be a short-term project with easily achievable goals a campus will be able to launch one year and then declare victory a year or two later. Institutions that have seen some success in this area report they have been doing this work for a decade or more. They do not consider the work finished; rather, they are even more committed to and excited about the work that has transformed their campuses and the lives of so many students.

For the last two years, student success has been in EDUCAUSE’s Top 10 IT issues. In fact, IT professionals identified it as number two this past year, immediately following the issue of security. Student success efforts are bringing about the implementation of new technologies, changing processes, integrating tools, and forcing institutions to rethink how they support students, centered not on the administration but on the students themselves.

The work, as EDUCAUSE staff have witnessed while supporting institutions’ efforts, entails a thoughtful implementation of technologies guided by the integral part of change management—getting people to change the way they do things. In our work with the institutions, we developed tools that offer a mix of best practices in deploying and/or choosing technologies in this area of student success, combined with a purposeful approach to the “people change” aspect that is critical for this work to succeed. These tools allow an institution to follow proven best practices and avoid common pitfalls as they prepare to select and implement the three key pillars of iPASS (Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success), also popularly known as technology-enabled advising.

Checklists for key aspects of technology-enabled advising reform each offer a compilation of questions and items for institutions to consider as they explore technology solutions for these areas:

Checklist for Early Alert Technology

Checklist for Degree Planning Technology

Checklist for Predictive Analytics Technology

The iPASS Rollout and Adoption Guide is made up of a series of interconnected guides that support critical components of a technology implementation and adoption plan, providing best practices and tools to help an institution develop and carry out a plan for the introduction of new tools and business practices in support of student success efforts. The guide has four sections:

  • Communication
  • Training
  • Evaluation
  • Refinement and Scaling

Another useful set of resources emerging from iPASS is available in the Return on Investment Toolkit. Given the limitations on institutional dollars and the uncertainty of grants, leadership of student success programs must take a strategic approach. The iPASS grantee institutions, in their approaches to implementing technology-enabled advising, were all asked to consider how the money invested in this work could pay off for the bottom line using a version of this tool. It allows an institution to expand its thinking beyond budgeting: Will putting new financial resources into technology purchases, staff salaries, new hires, professional development, consultants, or other areas ultimately result in more students staying at the institution longer and completing their programs? The spreadsheet-style tool allows specific calculations to answer this question over time.

The guide, the checklists, and the toolkit are all instruments that have been used by pioneering institutions and are now available to inform the work of higher education institutions looking to travel this road to improved student success. But they are not in and of themselves enough to guarantee that an institution will reach its goals. There are no silver bullets or one-size-fits-all solutions. Rather, as noted in the first article in this series, institutions need to bear several key principles in mind and attend to them regularly throughout the life of the initiative and beyond.

About the Author:

Nancy Millichap has worked for EDUCAUSE since 2011 in support of three initiatives with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Each program involved uses new technologies in combination with collaboration and process change to improve outcomes for undergraduate students, particularly those from low-income households and underrepresented groups.

As director for professional learning, Ana Borray, MA leads a team that is responsible for the EDUCAUSE Institute and all other face-to-face programs that support the professional development of higher education IT professionals. Ana joined EDUCAUSE in 2015 to lead the efforts of the IPASS grant that focuses on student success initiatives to drive an increase in completion rates for all students pursuing a higher education credential.


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