This year, more than 250 educators from more than 40 colleges and universities across the country met to share best practices and learn new ways to improve the use of data leading to student success.
“If we want to change data culture, everybody has to be at the table,” said Jesse Coraggio, Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services and the lead organizer of the event. “It is together that we are actually going to move the needle and make the change.”
SPC President Bill Law began Wednesday afternoon’s session by emphasizing the importance of using data to promote student success.
“The challenge is to take a big complex organization and get everyone moving in the same direction,” said Law. “The data is what changes professional opinions and behaviors.”
He gave an overview of The College Experience, explaining how SPC monitors data for five key areas to track students’ actions to help them finish what they start.
The event’s keynote presentation was given by Dr. Mark Milliron, Chief Learning Officer at Civitas Learning. Milliron was the founding chancellor of Western Governors University, Texas, and also served as deputy director for postsecondary improvement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“I think we are about to unlock a golden age of education,” said Milliron.
He went on to explain how data is enabling us to reach and teach more people than ever before drawing comparisons from the fields of athletics, healthcare and education.
“We are realizing that small moves made with analytics can make a huge difference,” he said.
Milliron led a panel discussion on Using Data to Improve Student Success featuring:
- Laura Mercer, Director, Research, Analytics and Reporting, Sinclair Community College
- Paul Dosal, Vice Provost for Student Success at University of South Florida
- Bill Law, President, St. Petersburg College
Mercer, who also teaches classes at Sinclair Community College, explained how personal notes to her students “sent engagement through the roof” proving that short, empathetic messages to students can make a difference.
“I can tell you without reservation that the people who changed my life were the people at the community college,” said Milliron. “They took the time to really challenge me.”
The panel discussed the use of apps that make it easier for faculty and staff to communicate effectively with their students.
“I am most excited about the potential for having this information in a useful form in the hands of the people who can most effectively touch students,” said Mercer.
The panel also discussed how educators are now entering the emerging field of predictive analytics and are learning that regarding intervention analysis, it’s not the same for all students.
“I think the students will tell us how to optimize the tools,” said Law. “If we keep that door open I think we’ll have great tools.”
Panel members explained the importance of using live data to make decisions quickly and then being ready to evaluate the outcomes and make changes as needed.
“I like the approach that we are all in this learning together and trying to adapt and grow and improve constantly, said Dosal. “We don’t know all the answers. But we have a vision of where we want to go.”
Held at downtown St. Petersburg’s Hilton Bayfront, the three-day event also included Collaborative Labs and a variety of topical sessions, as well as a second keynote panel discussion on Guided Pathways and Student Success led by Dr. Davis Jenkins, Senior Research Associate with the Community College Research Center. Panel members included:
- Joyce Walsh-Portillo, Associate VP of Academic Affairs, Broward College
- Wendi Dew, Assistant VP Teaching and Learning, Valencia Community College
- Sabrina Crawford, Executive Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, St. Petersburg College
Follow the event on Twitter at #movetheneedle2015.