5 Key Strategies for Improving Student Success

May 25, 2023 Watermark Insights

5 Key Strategies for Improving Student Success

With the right student success improvement plan, student potential can be maximized, leading to a life of purpose and success. These strategies can be implemented easily by new higher education institutions to improve student success and retention. 

1. Prioritizing by Risk Levels 

Because students all have unique backgrounds and experiences, some students are more at risk of falling behind and dropping out than others. Students might lack the financial resources to attend school without scholarships, while others lack the familial and cultural support to help them reach graduation. 

Advisors and administrators must have some way to identify and assess students for various risk factors to react quicker and develop stronger plans when improving student success in higher education. Targeting at-risk students ensures these students can get the extra support and resources they need to graduate and thrive. However, to access information about students and their challenges, you need the right tools. 

Some software solutions are available to help administrators and advisors determine which students are most at risk. Advisors and success coaches can then prioritize their outreach to the students that need them most. These solutions can help them understand which students need their help and how to take action through meetings, impact tasks, and action plans. Staff and faculty can easily personalize their outreach, plan their intervention strategies, and identify the student's risk, allowing for a quicker and more proactive approach to student success.

2. Monitoring Attendance in Real Time 

Class attendance is a better predictor of college grades than any other known predictor of academic performance, including common student metrics like high school GPA, standardized test scores, and study habits. Based on data collected from our institutions, we know that:

  • Students missing at least one course meeting are 9 to 12% less likely to pass the course than students who attend all class meetings.
  • Students missing more than two class meetings within any course are between 5 and 6% more likely to drop out than other students.

Students who don't attend class miss out on vital information taught by professors and other faculty, which can hurt their performance on homework, exams, and projects. Further, students cannot always rely on other students because the person they ask for notes might omit or misinterpret essential information. 

Academic advisors and success administrators can use this data to learn more about the students and their individual situations. Maybe a student is experiencing serious mental health concerns that cause them to miss classes, while a commuting student might have trouble finding parking before their classes. Others might just fail to see the importance of attendance, causing their grades to slip slightly with each absence. 

Institutions can intervene early with our automated attendance alerts. Students and their success teams can receive alerts when students miss class and reach out to support their efforts to attend regularly before it's too late. Together, teams can assess student circumstances and habits to develop a plan that connects students with the right resources and assistance they need to thrive. Teams can even bring professors into meetings to increase awareness, understanding, and support for students. 

Attendance data captured is used in predictive analytics to better understand the impact on student success. Software solutions can use attendance records from past semesters to identify trends, so your school can better predict and react to problems. For example, the system might highlight that you have more absences at the start of flu season. The following fall, you can implement a stronger flu shot and prevention campaign to keep students healthier and in class. 

Assigning “Impact Tasks” to Students

3. Assigning “Impact Tasks” to Students 

Students often need some direction when trying to solve a problem. Goals and objectives can help break down big-picture problems into digestible actions they can accomplish. When working with academic and student success advisors, students might receive tasks they should strive to complete between meetings or by certain dates to improve their chances of success. 

For example, advisors might ask students to attend tutoring to see how it impacts their grades. Another strategy to improve their academic performance might be going to a seminar hosted by the academic success department on how to take effective notes. 

Faculty and staff can assign such “impact tasks” to students using student success software solutions. Tasks take different forms across institutions. They can be created from templates or created by the user. Examples of impact tasks include following onboarding steps, applying for financial aid, or applying for a specific program on campus. These tasks can help keep students on track toward obtaining their goals.

When our data science team looked at the set of all impact tasks assigned to students across all customers, they found that:

  • Students with active or completed tasks demonstrate a 22% increase in course pass rates since the launch of impact tasking on campus.
  • Students who complete tasks demonstrate a 9% increase in course pass rates and a 3.4% increase in persistence rates compared to those students with incomplete tasks.
  • Students who complete their own tasks experience a 26% increase in course completion rates compared to students with tasks completed by staff members.

4. Tracking Academic Plans and Progress

While goals and objectives can help students achieve short-term results, students also need a way to visualize and track their progress toward larger goals and plans. When students understand the classes and actions they must complete to graduate on time, they can better schedule their semesters. 

Comprehensive tracking systems can help students see how many credits they have and how many they need. If they have multiple majors or additional considerations like minors and concentrations, they can view and measure their progress in one place. Many schools also include elements like internships and general education classes to graduate, so students can see when they complete these requirements. 

Student success starts with a plan. Drag-and-drop functionality on academic planning tracking systems is helpful for staff and allows students to see their progress. Student success rates are significantly higher and more consistent when students can visualize their progress and the plan for the semesters ahead.

5. Improving and Tracking Student Engagement 

Student engagement on campus can provide valuable insight into student success. When students are involved with campus life, they are less likely to drop out or transfer. Clubs, organizations, and jobs can help students feel connected and that they have a place in the community. They can make friends with similar passions that keep them invested in your institution. 

Students who are less connected on campus might feel isolated. They might not have friends in their classes, discouraging them from attending their lessons or studying with others. If they cannot find the social engagement they need to support their mental health and sense of belonging, they might seek out other education options. 

Administrators can track student engagement to measure and predict student success. You can use these metrics to identify which students might feel supported on campus and which ones might need outreach to keep them connected.

Improving Student Success With Watermark

Implementing these keys to student success will boost student retention and performance. Whether you are a new or existing customer, the Watermark team is here to help you strategize on how and when to adopt each of these features.

Request a demo today and discover how Watermark can support student success initiatives on your campus. 

Improving Student Success With Watermark

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