3 eastern Kansas universities try to improve retention

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Three eastern Kansas universities are using online administrative systems to improve how they identify struggling students and help them reach graduation.

The University of Kansas, Ottawa University and Haskell Indian Nations University are using the systems to mine student data to more quickly provide those who are struggling with tutoring, academic advising and mentorship. It’s part of a national push to improve retention and graduation rates, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.

“It’s important not only that students come back after their first year, which is what the retention rate measures, but also that they come back as sophomores if possible, so in other words that they also progress as they’re moving forward,” said Ann Cudd, vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas.

At Kansas, professors can use My Success, a program that is part of the online learning management system Blackboard, to flag a student who misses classes or is not performing well. Notifications are sent to the student’s adviser and student housing, so a resident assistant can check in with the student.

Kansas also is part of the University Innovation Alliance, involving 10 other universities, which is using analysis systems to identify methods that are successful in improving student outcomes, Cudd said. Kansas also uses student data to refer low-income, first-generation and minority students to programs that support their academic efforts.

Teresa Kelley, dean of instruction and director of the Adawe LifePlan Center at Ottawa University, said successful intervention requires the early identification of struggling students.

“Part of being intrusive is not waiting until students are flailing and drowning to help them, but watching them and giving them guidance as they go before they reach that critical point,” Kelley said.

Ottawa uses data similar to Kansas, but it also has instituted a collaborative effort that encourages professors, coaches and student housing leaders to identify at-risk students.

Haskell President Venida Chenault said the university uses ACT scores, high school GPAs or other measurements to find students whose K-12 curriculum may not have adequately prepared them for college. Those students are sent to a retention adviser, who refers them to other resources on campus.

 

 

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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