Using Data and Analytics to Identify High Impact Programs

Fayetteville State University (FSU) is a historically black university located in eastern North Carolina. To support the university's goal of increasing student success on campus, specifically with first-year students and student-athletes, FSU implemented Starfish Solutions in 2015.

In 2016, FSU redesigned and expanded a broad range of programs to improve early academic outcomes for first-year students. This effort was part of the Re-Imagining the First Year initiative with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). Of the programs FSU implemented, four stood out in terms of both participation and hypothesized impact:

  1. Visit an advisor before mid-term exams
  2. Receive additional student support through the university writing center
  3. Attend supplemental instruction
  4. Visit an advisor after mid-term exams

After a year of utilizing these four interventions, the FSU administration began to wonder if the programs were effective, or if they needed to switch course to better support their students.

Through information and data available within the Starfish solution, Starfish data scientists partnered with FSU to help them determine if their interventions were having the desired outcome.

The Starfish team identified and adjusted for relevant student background data, and produced four key findings:

  1. Writing Center and Supplemental Instruction: Attendance in both the Writing Center and Supplemental Instruction was found to have a positive impact on GPA, especially for students who attended multiple sessions.  
  2. Pre-Midterm Advising: Pre-midterm advising meetings had a positive impact on GPAs while post-midterm advising meetings did not. This implied that at least in terms of first-term GPA, the timing of advising matters for FSU freshmen.
  3. Student-Athletes: Initial findings showed that student-athletes also benefit from these interventions, though participation in the interventions as well as academic outcomes varied by sport.
  4. First Semester Interventions: More broadly, the analysis showed that early interventions for students can be a means of getting ahead of poor performance rather than reacting to it.   

Armed with this information, FSU student success leaders now have a better idea of where to focus their efforts and resources in order to best help not only first-year students and student-athletes, but all students on campus.

View the recent webinar, “Evaluating What Works: Using Data and Analytics to Identify High Impact Programs” to hear the additional insights FSU gained from FSU Academic Advisor, Amyn Abduk-Khaliq.

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