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Bigger steps on the path of student success

April 13, 2015

Faculty, Staff, and Students:

Officials in the Kansas Legislature this session drew attention to the value of various degree programs across the state as well as to student success. Long before this legislative discussion, University of Kansas faculty and staff have been making substantial advances on a number of student-focused initiatives, and another resource introduced this year will help further our progress.

New resource to benefit students

Undergraduate Studies introduced the EAB Student Success Collaborative to a small group of advisors last fall and to staff advisors across campus this spring. It is one of several initiatives working in concert to elevate KU’s six-year graduation rate for undergraduate students to 70 percent and raise the first-year student retention rate to 90 percent. The EAB tool offers predictive analytic tools that help identify and then reach out to students who may not be making sufficient progress toward graduation.

The EAB tool uses 10 years of KU student data to establish success markers that help predict on-time graduation for any given major. It also helps advisors identify students most in need of help, or who are approaching decision points in their degree program. The tool lets advisors determine risk, streamline their activities, spend more one-on-one time with students, and target the conversation during those meetings.

The EAB Student Success Collaborative is also just what its name implies — a collaborative. KU joined with 125 other colleges and universities in using the predictive tool. The collaboration allows our staff to work with other institutions to design effective uses and share analyses and interventions that improve student learning and student success.

More tools in the toolbox

The EAB Student Success Collaborative tool complements other advising analytic tools available to students, faculty, and staff. Together these advising analytics help faculty and advisors partner with students to ensure more students progress toward timely graduation, and succeed after graduation.

KU’s own Advising Tool provides degree progress reports students can generate on their own. With it students can see their current progress, evaluate other degree options, and identify the time necessary to complete each degree from their current progress. The KU Advising Tool also serves as a comprehensive storehouse of past advising notes and conversations that travel with students as they choose new majors or navigate among the College or the schools.

Many faculty and staff also have access to a variety of advising resources through Tableau, which provides a visual representation of information and data. Through visualization dashboards, advisors can run reports on the status of their advisees and prepare for meaningful conversations to help students chart their educational careers.

MySuccess provides students, faculty and advisors with information about how students are doing in their classes so academic support can be provided when needed, before it’s too late in a semester to help students achieve success. Blackboard, which students already view as the one-stop shop for their academic information, provides the portal to MySuccess.

Tracking and feedback tools such as MySuccess can have a direct effect on student success. Getting feedback to students early in the semester — as early as the first three weeks of class — can lead to greater student success and progression toward degree. MySuccess helps students best when they receive meaningful and early feedback on their work.

Focus on the student experience

These advising analytics help KU staff and faculty provide a smoother transition for students who pursue new majors, and especially those who shift into different schools. Collectively, they help standardize advising practices and ensure that training and protocols are consistent across campus. The tools provide the foundation for a central forum for advisors — a network that will foster discussion on trends and improvements.

New resources also are available to students; such as sample four-year degree plans in the new course catalog. All undergraduate majors will soon have these semester-by-semester roadmaps to graduation.

Relationships are still crucial

None of these assets and resources replaces the knowledge and skill advisors bring to KU every day. Knowing the students and their particular situations — their personalities, abilities, motivations, and challenges — are elemental. All of these tools are resources that help faculty and staff spot trends, have timely and insightful conversations, and still provide individualized attention.

A variety of strategies, resources, and many dedicated people are focused on ensuring students thrive at KU. The first goal of Bold Aspirations addresses students and their ability to succeed. It’s our shared calling to put all students on a path to graduation and career success as early as possible.

Bits and Bytes

  • Please join me in officially welcoming James Tracy to KU as our new vice chancellor for research. His wealth of experience will expand scholarly achievement across all disciplines.
  • KU is a leader in languages across the Midwest and that distinction grew yet again with the Spanish minor unveiled this spring. The minor arose as a student-requested initiative in 2012. Thank you to all the students, faculty, and staff who worked to make this idea become a KU reality.
  • The School of Music’s newly renovated Swarthout Recital Hall reopened March 30, and it was well worth the wait. Roughly 100 donors supported the project. Several celebratory performances remain in the reopening concert series.
  • A strong and encouraging response came from the call for nominations to the campus climate task force. Staff received more than 300 responses, and Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity Nate Thomas and Associate Vice Provost for Human Resources Management Mike Rounds are now working to select a task force whose membership provides wide representation of academic levels, leadership, backgrounds and interests.
  • Congratulations to faculty members Steven Maynard-Moody, Charles Epp and Don Haider-Markel. The Section on Public Administration Research recently honored the three with the 2015 Best Book Award for their timely book, Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship.
  • Thank you for all the thoughtful responses to the last Provost eNews. I received a number of creative suggestions for the innovative KU BRRAINS microchip program. I was especially impressed by the comments of Physics and Astronomy Professor John Ralston, who, through his future advances in time travel, already saw this KU development coming. He offered great advice to go back and file patents on our inventions, which KUIC will do first thing last year.
Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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