WC is an Independent, Co-educational, Four-year, Career-oriented
The College is rooted in historic Quaker values that include integrity, service, simplicity, equality, peace and social justice and respect for all persons. There are approximately 1,100 students on the main campus and another 50 enrolled in two branches in Cincinnati. The majority of students are from Ohio. WC is a baccalaureate level institution that offers 23 majors. Degree programs with the largest enrollment include agriculture, business administration, education and athletic training. WC is well known for its signature programs in agriculture. Only 12 private colleges in the United States offer a four year degree in Agriculture, and WC is the only private agriculture program in Ohio.
A significant portion of WC students are at high-risk for academic failure. Approximately 50 percent of WC’s students are first-generation college students, and 50 percent are identified as being from families with an annual income of less than $50,000. Forty-three percent of students are awarded Pell grants and 99 percent of WC students receive financial aid, with an average aid package of $25,000. WC is enrolling a higher percentage of students who enter college underprepared. For example, half of the entering freshmen in the fall of 2014 required a developmental writing course as compared to 30 percent just five years ago. The four-year graduation rate for the 2008 cohort of students was only 47 percent… Although the six year graduation rate is the standard metric for federal reporting, WC is structured to provide a four year degree completion program.
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How it works
Establishing a culture of assessment will provide a critical foundation for effective strategic planning and data-informed decision making. Establishing a culture of assessment has been difficult for many reasons. Staff and faculty lack knowledge and experience gathering, interpreting and integrating data into the decision making process. In addition, the College’s outdated technology infrastructure makes it difficult to access meaningful data in a timely way. Finally, the economic challenges facing the College due to lower enrollment and high discount rate, limit resources available to update technology, train staff and faculty and expand on current retention efforts.
In 2012, the College began an intensive self-study process in preparation for the reaccreditation visit from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The report produced by HLC indicated reviewers found ample evidence “…that data is collected but not analyzed, analyzed but shared only with small groups, or summarized and not linked to related assessments. “Collection of data is widespread, but much of the information remains in “silos full of data” in various departments and programs. The results of the self-study report has since provided invaluable information for the Title III committee to addressing lacking assessment
WC is attempting to become self-sufficient and expand its capacity to serve low-income, first generation students while improving and strengthening academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability through better assessment and planning. The College believes that adopting a culture that embraces the use of data in decision making will not only improve institutional decision making, but positively impact student achievement and retention.
Data and the technology necessary to provide it are critical to the management of any organization. Application of analytics in higher education holds significant promise for transforming institutional effectiveness in a wide range of areas, from individual student achievement to improving administrative decision-making.
Through the use of Ruffalo Noel Levitz’s (RNL) Student Retention Predictor (SRP), a comprehensive tool utilizing predictive modeling to develop an attrition curve, otherwise known as, a student’s likelihood to be retained, has been the first step in creating a culture of assessment. Data was collected by RNL from past enrollment for historical analysis. From historical analysis, a predictive model that measures likelihood to be retained was developed based on observed risk factors.
In fall 2018, every freshman took the College Student Inventory (CSI), an online non-cognitive student motivational assessment. The CSI, designed for first year students, measures student strengths and challenges, attitudes, and receptivity to assistance. From historical data, gathered and scored by RNL, students that took the CSI were given a SRP score. Reports were then created for each student detailing each item, and likelihood to be retained. The students that scored between .10-4.0 are considered unlikely to be retained for many different reasons. There were 106 students that scored within this range.
Of the students 106 students that scored within the unlikely to be retained range, 95 are still enrolled at WC. The Student Success Coaches (SSCs) have provided outreach to every student within the unlikely to retain population. The SSCs use a holistic coaching approach to advise students, and determine their motivation. The CSI and SRP scores provide early identification and detection of at-risk students. Therefore, making it easier to intervene, and support students. The additional analytic technology has also helped to increase cross- divisual communication that further supports early identification and intervention.
Upgrading current analytic tools and adding professionally trained staff that can analyze reports and recommend appropriate action plans for interventions has already been successful. . Inside Track’s study on students coached during their first year was 5 percentage points more likely to persist than those not receiving the same level of coaching. The study also noted that the positive effects of coaching on persistence did not end after the coaching stopped. While it is still too early to firmly say increased technology utilizing predictive analytics is impacting retention, we can firmly say the success of the new advising model and the work of the Student Success Coaches are directly related to the increased analytics.
The goal is the use of data analytics will be employed in all decision making, help to identify opportunities for early interventions, and empower the College to make sound decisions.
Outcomes measurements will continue to evolve. Once Fall 18 semester concludes, data will be gathered and analyzed. The following methods will be used to measure outcomes:
- An increase in persistence to second term; an increase in first-year retention
- An increase in retention to the fifth semester and an increase in graduation rates
- Improved advising services
- The ability to align resources with students’ needs
- Increased use of student services
As organizations became more dependent on data for accountability, WC relied on outdated systems to collect and report information. Because data was not easily available, assessment and the use of data was not an integral part of planning, and processes evolved without it as a foundation for decision-making. Strong leadership from the administration will be critical to change how data is used. Concrete, intentional examples of how data is integrated into key decision-making processes will be important in garnering support (Dillon and Porter, 2015). Strong leadership from the administration and comprehensive professional training will facilitate the development of a culture of assessment on campus.