Since 2012, Watermark (formerly Aviso Retention) has partnered with NCCCS to identify at-risk students and to provide technology-enabled holistic student support through predictive analytics, early alerting, messaging, and reporting features – built upon best practices – to increase student retention and degree completion. From the time of our initial partnership with NCCCS, Watermark has gone from working with 33 NCCCS colleges to 42 out of the 58 in the community college system. This increase is a direct result of our record of success in implementing and training two-year community colleges and technical colleges with our innovative programs and ground-breaking research, such as the Minority Male Success Initiative and our First in the World research.
The Minority Male Success Initiative (MMSI) was developed to focus on increasing the progression and completion rates of minority male students and to help strengthen minority male student outcomes by encouraging participation and collaboration among student participants, peers, college departments, and administration.
In developing the program, Watermark is partnering with 11 NCCCS colleges for a three-year commitment to assess and augment the student success rates of minority male students. To this end, Watermark is helping partner colleges to configure software that will meet their unique needs and to track specific student cohort groups of new minority male students and other at-risk groups.
This spring, with the conclusion of the first year of the MMSI program partnership, Watermark analyzed the collected data from the Watermark data warehouse, which was used to build and support the various risk models associated with assigning and displaying student risk profiles. The data also contained many points of interest that could be used when examining the long-term impact of student success initiatives on campus.
The completion of the first year of the MMSI program found positive outcomes for minority males both in terms of course completion and persistence. Minority male students who were part of the MMSI program were found to have a 1.8% increase in course completion and a 1.5% increase in persistence.
Preliminary results demonstrated:
1. Racial/Ethnic Gaps in Persistence Decreased
Minority male persistence rates are closer to white male persistence rates than previously noted. This is good news, possibly pointing to evidence that use of Watermark Student Success & Engagement software (formerly Aviso Retention), an equity solution that makes it easy to reach out to students, helps to identify issues preventing students from succeeding, and develop strategies to address them.
2. Racial/Ethnic Gaps in Course Completion Decreased
Course completion rates also decreased between historical and impact terms. The ongoing gaps, in part, were likely as a result of online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All these gaps decreased from historical terms, but still have room for improvement.
Preliminary results from the MMSI program suggest that success coaching through the MMSI program is an effective way to help ensure minority male students persevere in their studies and complete their academic programs. These findings also suggest that by partnering with Watermark and implementing software programs that meet each learning institution’s unique needs, partner institutions were successfully able to track cohorts of new and returning male minority students and other at-risk groups.
Watermark has also been committed to research efforts to determine if proactive and individualized success coaching at 10 NCCCS colleges improved student retention. The First in the World (FITW) program used a unique combination of targeted student success coaching, predictive analytics, technology supports, and business process changes to discover if this combination of efforts had the potential to significantly improve student success.
Key findings of the FITW research program include:
- Impacts of success coaching grow larger over time.
- Male students and black students experience larger benefits from coaching.
- Strong institutional support and low coach turnover increase the impacts of success coaching on student retention and completion.
The FITW research program yielded impressive results for participating colleges:
- 9% increase in longer-term retention for students who had success coaches.
- 12% increase in credential completion for students who had the same coach for the duration of the study.
- 18% increase in likelihood to stay enrolled for two academic years for black students assigned to a coach.
- 9% increase in credential completion for students who had success coaches.
Watermark is devoted to helping NCCCS colleges be able to easily identify at-risk students who may benefit from student success initiatives. We have been grateful for the partnership that we have forged with NCCCS and will continue to support our NCCCS partnerships as they move forward.
This article was originally published in The North Carolina Association of Community College Trustees Newsletter on 6/14/2021.
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