Data-Activated Student Support Ecosystem

January 23, 2023
  • Corporate partners
  • Retention
Graphic illustration connecting the ecosystem, data, and technology.

Sponsored by Civitas Learning, Inc

Explore how the University of Texas at San Antonio is contributing to greater equity in higher education, positively impacting their students’ futures, and fostering institutional sustainability with data-activated collaboration and systems.

The Challenge:

National data, trends, and best practices that many universities use to improve student outcomes do not reflect the University of Texas at San Antonio’s primarily Hispanic, first-generation, and Pell-eligible student population. Without access to trends that reflected their students, UTSA’s impact on student success was limited. UTSA needed institution-specific insights throughout the term to close equity gaps and improve access to higher education for its community.

The Solution:

Over the last decade, UTSA has steadily cultivated a data-activated ecosystem of student success through:

  • intentional institutional structures that deconstruct siloes and promote collaboration,

  • careful application of change management techniques to build a unified perspective and shared goals around student support,

  • adoption of institution-specific analytics and a strong commitment to data-informed practices and analysis to offer more precise and proactive student success.

Meeting the Needs of Students with Institution-Specific Insights and Initiatives

UTSA is recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) where students from all backgrounds can thrive. To achieve equitable student success, campus leaders recognized a need to better understand their students’ unique challenges and accurately identify the specific programs that offer the best support.

Moving beyond national data and general trends to more institution-specific insights and student-specific solutions has enabled UTSA to deliver proactive support to all student groups.

Three strategies are crucial to UTSA’s success in cultivating a data-activated student success ecosystem:

  • Fostering an intentional and unified approach to student success,

  • Leveraging institutional data to refine support for specific student groups, and

  • Investing in a student success platform that promotes a campus-wide data culture

Strategy 1:Fostering an Intentional and Unified Approach to Student Success

At UTSA student success isn’t the responsibility of just one office or division, but the duty of the entire institution. To live this wisdom, UTSA has implemented an organizational structure and operational practices that reinforce student success as a key initiative of the entire university.

The “hub and spoke” model, UTSA’s organizational structure for student success, consists of the centralized Division of Student Success and Student Success Centers located within each academic college.

The Division of Student Success, prominently located in an area of campus known as the Academic Success District, offers a slate of centralized programs and services designed to support overall student success, including academic advising, student academic support, student success coaching, and housing and residence life. The Division of Student Success also coordinates a mentoring hub to offer specialized support to first-year, first-generation, and transfer students.

This organizational structure reflects a collaborative and cross-functional approach to student success. Campus leaders meet weekly to review student success data and determine targeted initiatives. The staff who oversee key departments come together to operationalize these initiatives and coordinate services.

Strategy 2:Leveraging Institutional Data to Refine Support for Specific Student Groups

UTSA’s student population is 57% Hispanic, 45% of students are the first in their families to attend college, and nearly 50% are Pell-eligible. As the institution evolved its student success initiatives, campus leaders realized that the national data, trends, and best practices that many universities use to improve student outcomes did not necessarily reflect the unique profile and characteristics of UTSA’s student body.

Implementing the Civitas Learning Student Impact Platform has enabled UTSA to access more of its institutional data, analyze trends, develop strategies to intervene, and observe the impact of support initiatives on specific student populations.

Dr. Tammy Wyatt, Vice Provost for Student Success, explains the importance of a data-informed approach to student success. “The Civitas Learning Student Impact Platform allows us to view student success through a data-focused lens. It ensures we’re not leaving any gaps that students could fall through along the way. And in this time of limited resources and budgets, it enables us to avoid offering redundant services.”

Across the UTSA campus, the insights revealed by data analysis have inspired staff to adopt a more tailored and proactive approach to student outreach and support. Understanding the impact of their efforts inspires student success teams to fine-tune their efforts and continually evolve their student success processes and goals.

Strategy 3: Investing in a Student Success Platform that Promotes a Campus-Wide Data Culture

From the beginning of its campus-wide efforts around student success, UTSA laid a firm foundation for data-informed decision-making and data-activated practices. As their efforts to promote student success have become more precise, the technology tools they use to look at the impact of their work have become integral to their continued success.

Through their skillful application of the Civitas Learning platform, campus leaders activated leading indicators of student success that help them intervene faster and disrupt the trends that impact the success of specific student groups.

Recognizing that DFW rates and mid-term grades are lagging indicators of student success, campus leaders use insights from data analyses to observe recurring trends and to know what interventions are most effective to support that population. Armed with this information, they can provide the necessary academic support to stop that trend from recurring.

Student Success Coalition Leads to Positive Outcomes and Institutional Recognition

By embracing a unified vision for student success and implementing structures that encourage cross-departmental communication and collaboration, UTSA has built an ecosystem of collective support that truly meets the needs of its diverse student population. Resulting in significant gains in both student and institutional success.

UTSA’s success is a result of its efforts to transform its student success initiatives to truly meet the needs of students. By unlocking more of its institutional data, administrators and program directors can identify institutional barriers to student success and remove them by better calibrating support services to the needs of specific student groups. This deep, system-level transformation continues to evolve as UTSA responds to its students’ current challenges and needs – further contributing to greater equity in higher education, positively impacting their students’ futures, and fostering institutional sustainability.

Learn how partnering with Civitas Learning can help your team reach its student success goals.


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