The RESEARCH Agenda

I Get You: Simple Tools for Understanding Your Student Populations and Their Needs to Succeed

College admission typically requires students to present their high school GPA and a standardized score, such as ACT or SAT. High school GPA is usually attributed to students’ cumulative effort during their high school career and is often used as a measure of resilience. The ACT score allows students’ aptitude to be assessed. Contemporary admission practices, however, often rely on a combination of scores that allow ranking a potential student and viewing them as a high- or low-potential based on a single number. While such practice is efficient for making quick admission decisions, it is detrimental for identifying students’ particular needs while in college. Such students with academic challenges may require help understanding the subject matter, while students who lack essential study- or time-management skills may require assistance emphasizing the behavioral component of being in college. Lack of a simple way to estimate potential challenges within the populations comprising the student body often results in treating the population that doesn’t necessarily need help and overlooking the segments that may require extra or a different type of attention. To quickly understand the differences in student population, a tool was developed that parcels an incoming cohort into four achievement quadrants: low achiever, high achiever, overachiever, and underachiever. This study explores the usability of this tool in determining at-risk population, and understanding behavioral differences and reported academic needs for intervention design.

Jason Pontius is the Director of Institutional Research at the Iowa Board of Regents. He is responsible for data reporting and analytics for Iowa’s public university system and liaisons with multiple state agencies for the purposes of longitudinal data sharing. Jason holds a Ph.D. in education policy from Iowa State University, a master’s in higher education administration from Indiana University, and a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Virginia.

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