Data does the heavy lifting

Hilbert College in Hamburg, NY

It’s one thing to have data. It’s another thing to actually use it. And with the new industry focus on performance-based funding, institutions are finding creative ways to make the most of the data they already have.

For example, Hilbert College in Hamburg, NY implemented a suite of reporting and analytics tools to create one authoritative source of data. The results were surprising. Michael Murrin, vice president of information services at Hilbert College explains in Harnessing Campuswide Data for Student Success, published by Campus Technology, “Once you start seeing information in ways that you could never see it before, it immediately takes you to another level. It triggers another question about something else that wasn’t previously on your radar.”

In Hilbert’s case, the data provided analytics for key known indicators as well as helped the college identify new linkages. Now, it is exploring a newly identified connection between academic performance and residential factors such as integrating high-performing and low-performing students, upper and lower classmen, and other combinations. Because many students struggle in the transition from high school to college, deliberately pairing more successful students with low-performing students in dorms improves study habits and commitment to graduate. The roommates become peer mentors and provide valuable academic information, for example demonstrating how to keep on top of course schedules and financial aid timelines. This informal dynamic fosters a friendship that can help a struggling student more quickly adapt to the rigors of college life, have a better student experience, and graduate with higher grades.

But that’s not all. Being able to slice and dice the data has also helped the college identify more at-risk students by linking poor class attendance and health department lists of students lacking immunizations as well as when a student is not taking meals in the cafeteria. It’s no surprise that a student’s health and ability to attend class, study, or take tests will affect their outcome. But being able to pinpoint those students and provide targeted communications and outreach programs has the potential to radically alter their success.

Having access to insightful data helps you use it in innovative ways that inform strategic decisions and improve student success rates. How are you using data to support your decisions?

1 Comment

  1. Very important objective that will drive organizational success. The challenge is applying the reporting tools and platforms within a reasonable budget. The tools are just that tools; developing/building/designing the database to trend critical data and KPI’s need dba’s, quants, data scientist, and business SME’s or expensive provider Professional Services. As a results this initiative is evolving very slowly. It is ironic that the HigherEd industry’ core mission/product is about creating/advancing intelligence and is about 20 years behind private sector use of business intelligence.

    What is more ironic, this is one of the most important visible applications that the organization’s CEO will personally use everyday.