Research into higher-ed trends reveals changing definitions of success in higher education towards student well-being, career preparation.

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Research reveals changing definitions of success in higher education towards student well-being, career preparation

Six global higher-ed trends outlined in a new annual research report offer insight into how the pandemic has impacted higher education–and equity, engagement, and intention design are among the top trends.

The report, State of Student Success and Engagement in Higher Education, comes from Instructure, the makers of Canvas.

Overall, about half of respondents report a positive perception of online learning. Mental health is increasingly critical, with 92% viewing student psychological well-being as an impactful socioeconomic factor influencing student success. For North American respondents, skills-based learning emerged as a priority in year-two of the COVID crisis, with 70% of respondents saying that having definable skills is more important than course titles or a degree. 

“This past year as campuses around the world grappled to find a new normal in an increasingly hybrid ecosystem, the number one thing we saw was resilience,” said Melissa Loble, chief customer success officer at Instructure. “While grades remain important, administrators, faculty, and students are defining success more holistically and adjusting campus support to match that definition. Institutions are also actively working to improve faculty technology proficiency and online course development to help students succeed in any environment.”

Now in its second year, Instructure’s research reflects a survey of thousands of current students, administrators, and faculty from 18 countries representing a mixture of two-year, four-year, public, and private higher education institutions. The report uncovered six key trends:

1. Career readiness is (still) the number one priority for students.
Preparing students for life after graduation is the #1 concern, however, administrators and students agree that this is where institutions struggle most.

  • 84% of this year’s respondents defined student success as work/career readiness, a rise from 78% in 2020
  • 35% of students and 33% of administrators globally rank career readiness as the area most needing improvement, 4% more than in 2020

Laura Ascione