The institution pursues educational improvement through goals and strategies that improve retention, persistence and completion rates in its degree and certificate programs.
The institution has defined goals for student retention, persistence and completion that are ambitious, attainable and appropriate to its mission, student populations and educational offerings.
IU Southeast has undertaken systematic and targeted reforms to improve student persistence, retention, and success. The success of our efforts as a community can be seen in our 8% increase in our student retention rate (24-0630).
Before COVID 19
IU Southeast focused on making changes to gateway classes that were targeted to enhance student success (24-0467). This led to a variety of initiatives to enhance student success, including expanding the Degree-in-Four Scholarship programs across schools, having faculty report student progress in courses so immediate interventions could occur (SERs), and more closely monitoring student progress in FYS classes. In addition, the student persistence coordinator position was created. The campus has been successful in increasing credit accumulation while maintaining the percentage of students who passed all their courses (e.g., see Math Skills Section detailed below).
IU Southeast continues to innovate, evolve, and scale up projects we have found successful. We also continue to develop new ideas in our quest to enhance student success. In the fall of 2018, for example, a systematic nudge campaign was implemented (24-0472), and multi-section course grants were funded to ensure the continued expansion of high-impact practices on campus. In October 2019, the Chancellor formed the Crimson-Ribbon panel of 37 individuals from various departments across campus including faculty, staff and students. The focus of the charge was to consider existing initiatives and new initiatives to ensure more students persist and graduate. A report was created based on the analysis of this task force (24-0397). Progress on many of these initiatives was interrupted and influenced by the pandemic, but some development occurred, and a follow-up addressing many suggestions made by the panel were addressed as the campus adapted to the pandemic and student needs impacted by those events (24-0398).
Impact of the COVID-19 Quarantine
In Spring 2020, the COVID-19 virus led all classes to be pivoted to an online version after spring break ended. The focus of the campus was to ensure the safety of students while completing the academic semester. The sudden shift to online learning was necessary because physical classrooms were no longer a safe option. This created challenges for students and professors as both had to adjust to new modes of learning and instruction. Through the process, we discovered students faced difficulties accessing reliable internet connections and technology.
The Institute for Learning and Teaching Excellence (ILTE) played a significant role in preparing faculty for the shift to online learning and the subsequent return to in-person teaching. Prior to the pandemic, the ILTE provided a variety of workshops, online modules, one-on-one consultations, and week-long cohort training to prepare faculty for online teaching. Consequently, approximately 50% of faculty had received some training in teaching online. When the shift to online teaching was announced, the ILTE provided online materials, added emergency online cohorts, and worked one-on-one with faculty who were new to online teaching. Much of the ILTE work during this time was completed through Zoom. The focus was on assisting faculty in developing effective high quality online courses, using Quality Matters standards that begin with strong student learning outcomes, an emphasis on faculty-initiated student interaction, and a universal design of learning that emphasized accessibility built into the design of the course (24-0468).
Returning from the COVID 19 Quarantine
Faculty and leadership have continued to focus on enhancing student success and persistence. Initial efforts after the quarantine focused on helping faculty and students successfully transition back to campus, as appropriate. Some students preferred in-person classes, while others preferred the flexibility afforded by online classes for one or more of their classes. Meeting the needs of both populations was critical to student success. In December 2021, the Chancellor consulted with the Academic & Quality Council to develop retention and persistence goals for the campus (24-0329, pp. 7-8), creating the IU Southeast Retention Plan (24-0404) to share with the campus. This led to multiple developments throughout campus. The number of faculty and staff engaged in the work to enhance student success and persistence has expanded. Now, the culture of campus is that everyone contributes to creating the conditions that ensure our students persist and succeed in their goals. In 2021, as more faculty asked about the ways they could help with student persistence, a list of ways to help was created, noting the contributions that could be made to contribute (24-0470). Shortly after, staff also wanted a similar list to discover new ways they could assist with student success (24-0471).
The institution collects and analyzes information on student retention, persistence, and completion of its programs
The institution uses information on student retention, persistence, and completion of programs to make improvements as warranted by the data.
The Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE) creates and distributes regular reports relating to student retention and persistence, and these data have defined dissemination pathways (24-0653). In addition, IU Bloomington's Institutional Analytics has created a dashboard of these metrics to keep the campus informed (for examples of overviews of retention reports, please see: 24-0469). An example of this process can be demonstrated in two DFW reports that were specifically created to improve the campus' retention and persistence rates (24-0476; 24-0477). These reports served as the starting points for the development of the co-requisite model (See 4.C.3. for more detail). Information is also collected and analyzed within individual academic units. (See below, 4.C.3.)
Enhancing Advisor's Impact
The collaboration between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, beginning in fall 2018, used behavioral economics to plan and implement a set of nudges to all students on campus encouraging good academic choices has been further developed. Each term, an analysis of the best way to communicate with students has been conducted and changes have been implemented based on those discussions. Adjusting the tone and timing of communications has been productive. Currently, the persistence coordinator develops a set of nudge emails that advisors personalize and send to students on targeted topics (e.g., see: 24-0472). Advisors can now contact students more immediately using texting. Signal Vine - a texting tool that advisors have used since Spring 2022 - allows advisors to text with students. Using email and texting has enhanced the outreach advisors can do with their assigned students, thus enhancing their relationships. All advisors have also received coaching training, and they now infuse coaching techniques with their advising practices. Together, the AVC, EVCAA, the persistence coordinator, and the advising director worked with the advisors to develop an intentional advising outreach plan called the Meaningful Middle program. This program has been implemented to target a specific set of students who in the past were at risk of not being retained (24-0473). Analysis of the results indicate that students are building stronger relationships with advisors, and this is leading to higher persistence of students (24-0474).
Ongoing Efforts to Enhance Math Skills on Campus
In addition to assessing learning within courses, DFW reports provide omnibus data indicating student success completion rates. Lack of success in gateway math and writing courses has been shown to be correlated with poor persistence, leading to a focus on increasing math course completion rates. One strategy implemented was the use of co-requisite courses in mathematics and writing beginning in fall 2016 to new course developments. The co-requisite model allows students to skip a developmental course and begin taking a first-year course while receiving additional support within the course. For a few courses, there was significant improvement, but the co-requisite model did not address the issue in all courses. Consequently, the math faculty continued to reflect and conduct research in this area. Specifically, in Feb 2023, a subset of the math faculty worked with researchers to analyze student learning and increase student success in lower-level math courses. Using the suggestions from the Crimson Ribbon panel, they implemented changes by embedding supplemental instruction into class time and extending the time of the class meeting sessions while also adjusting some of the course homework. Using direct and indirect measures, the instructors assessed the impact of their changes and achieved some success (24-0475). The math faculty have also worked with education faculty to enhance the success rate of education students taking the specific math courses needed for elementary education majors. Analyzing the learning outcomes, adjusting some of the requirements to the class, and embedding additional work time in these classes has also led to a higher success rate in these math courses (24-0476; 24-0477).
Ongoing Development of First Year Seminar (FYS)
Student success and retention data have been used to develop the required First Year Seminar (FYS) course (e.g., 24-0654). Prior to the pandemic, some planned changes were intended for FYS, but the pandemic delayed these plans so the campus could adjust to pandemic teaching conditions.
In summer of 2020, anticipating IU Southeast would continue to operate remotely during the fall semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, two faculty (current FYS director and the future FYS director) created a common Canvas course shell for all FYS instructors to use during the fall 2020 semester. This common shell was designed to alleviate some of the preparation burden for instructors preparing their FYS class. While some personalization of their course was needed, most of the work was done in the shell. The design of the FYS course was based on the course learning outcomes and followed best practices in online course construction as indicated by Quality Matters (QM). The design also used the Canvas Outcomes tool to collect direct evidence of student learning on the course learning outcomes, which was a new feature as previously only indirect evidence of student learning had been collected. The textbook was provided via IU e-text on the TopHat platform. The fall 2020 semester was the first time all instructors used the same course shell, and post semester assessment indicated using the shell improved consistency in instruction and achievement of learning outcomes (24-0478). After fall 2020, FYS instructors were required to continue to use the course shell in their teaching - whether online asynchronous, online synchronous, hybrid, or in-person.
In fall 2022, the FYS Curriculum Revision Committee examined all direct and indirect evidence of student learning, considered instructor feedback, and included feedback from students in its revision planning. The course learning outcomes were revised to make them more measurable and focused on infusing the learning outcomes from previous information literacy and diversity modules throughout the whole of the curriculum, thus eliminating two modules from the shell. A new textbook was chosen: The New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony with Your Brain (Third Edition) by Todd D. Zakrajsek. Students can either purchase a paperback for $22 or read digitally through the IU Southeast Library for free; this was in response to student and faculty desire to maintain the option of having a physical copy of the textbook to enhance student learning through the accommodation of reading preferences. In addition, because of indirect evidence of student learning, more attention throughout the whole of the course is focused on time management skills, in addition to continuing to cover all the other course outcomes. In this new model, the campus's Information Literacy General Education outcomes are integrated throughout the entire course and are measured by the Canvas Outcomes assessment tool; this will significantly increase the reporting of the direct evidence of student learning on those outcomes and make the task easier for all FYS instructors. Finally, the course will last only 10 weeks instead of 13, because feedback from the Student Government Association officers indicated the course was too long and tended to repetition in the final weeks, an observation the faculty and director concurred with. The new, streamlined, more focused curriculum was finished in May 2023 and was piloted in the Collegiate Summer Institute during the summer of 2023. Beginning in fall 2023, this curriculum and textbook are being used by all FYS Instructors.
Continuing infusion of Career Skills in courses and across the curriculum.
Examining past successful practices on the campus led to the implementation of academic planning courses: for example, past success in the School of Business demonstrated that students who took BUS-X 220 (Career Perspectives) graduated at a higher rate than students who did not. Most disciplines now have career courses developed in their area. Students may also complete a more junior academic planning course targeting the first-year student: COAS-S 154 (Pathways) for students with a major area of interest as well as COAS-S 100 for exploratory students. Both options guide students to develop their academic and career paths during their time at IU Southeast. Data analyses using persistence indicate a clear pattern across time: students who take one of these courses are retained at a higher rate than students who do not. There is no single assessment report to provide an overview across areas because each program monitors their own assessment. One example of course development of a career course can be seen by considering the work done with Psychology's P199 course. Over several years, P199, the career course taught in Psychology has evolved as reflections on assessment data and changes in class sizes have expanded. For example, the cap on the section was raised from 12 to 20 and this led to significant modifications needed in the course. After this change, feedback from students indicated more time was needed to process the material covered by the assignments and align the course with other career courses in social sciences, consequently the course was extended to a full semester format. In fall 2020, pandemic demands necessitated changes to design an online modality for the course. This led to a standardization of assessments, discussions, writing assignments, and rubrics for the course so multiple instructors could teach the course. A multi-section course grant supported the development of some of these changes (24-0479). Continuing enhancements of the course shell led the lead instructor to apply for QM course certification, acquired in June 2022 (24-0480). Career courses for specific majors are now present for most majors (24-0655).
To enhance student career skills, the School of Business has multiple networking events where undergraduate business students get the opportunity to interact and learn from professionals. Three different types of events occur across the academic year. The Spin Networking Event, The Speed Networking event, and the PLAN networking event (24-0481). These events occur in the fall and spring semesters. Professionals from the community come to interact with IU Southeast students. These events help students develop necessary social skills as they interact with professionals. The professionals also benefit by feeling more connected to the campus. Evidence for this impact is captured by a recent Human Resource participant who was able to take part when visiting the campus (24-0482).
Continuing integration of career skills continues in the fall 2023. Twelve faculty from the IU Southeast campus participated in a cross-campus pilot with the goal of increasing students' ability to understand specific career competencies they are developing in their course (24-0483). Training commenced during the summer of 2023. Each faculty will implement new strategies focused on a targeted competency and assess its impact during the fall 2023 semester.
Student Engagement Roster Use by Faculty and Advisors
Since spring 2018, the Student Engagement Roster has allowed faculty to report on attendance and identify students experiencing academic difficulty (24-0484). The SER is an early student performance alert that all undergraduate instructors should use. This is necessary to verify attendance/participation to ensure compliance with financial aid requirements and to identify students of all class levels who need help. The SER alert triggers a series of follow-up interventions by advisors, the PC, and other staff. Instructors can provide positive feedback on strong academic performance or effort and detailed notes for the students and staff SER student records. Additionally, the SER allows users to see when students view their instructor feedback. The PC shares SER results with relevant constituents (i.e., the Honors Program, athletic coaches, Graduate Studies, and academic advisors) to assure students are contacted in an efficient and customized fashion. Institutional Analytics provides reports that track the percentage of faculty who complete SERs and patterns of types of concerns present for students (24-0656).
Degree in Four Students continue to Thrive
IU Southeast retention data have indicated that some of our students who completed their first year and were doing well academically still leave during the second year, never to return to college (24-0485). To address this issue, the first Degree in Four Scholarship Mentoring Program was initiated in 2013. Its goal was to identify high-performing students early in their first year and to recruit them if they commit to graduating in four years. Results indicate that students enrolled in this program have in fact persisted and graduated at a higher rate than students with matching GPAs who are not in the program. Across the years, programs were developed across each school. Outcome data for the Degree in Four Programs continue to show these same patterns of success for its students (24-0485).
CircleIn, a free-to-students study app that allows students to communicate, exchange ideas, access tutors and supplemental instructors, share notes, use flashcards, study together virtually, and stay productive (24-0486) was implemented in the fall of 2021. Faculty shared and encouraged students to use CircleIn to enhance their studying efforts. During the fall 2022 semester, five faculty participated in a CircleIn teaching scholarship project assessing their integration of CircleIn and noted how it enhanced student studying in their classes. If endorsed and used properly, it is clear that CircleIn can enhance student's performance; please see the pilot reflection from two faculty members (24-0487; 24-048888). However, the use of this tool was discontinued in the fall 2023 due to low student interest.
In September 2021, the Chancellor created a task force to design a set of learning communities to implement in the fall of 2022. Twelve faculty and the AVC worked together to create a prototype for learning communities designed for first- and second-year students. In the fall of 2022, 17 faculty taught nine learning communities impacting 194 students. Both direct and indirect measures were used to gauge the effectiveness of the learning communities. One primary focus of the communities was to enhance social and academic belonging. The participating faculty and AVC discussed the results and adjusted the design for the fall 2023 learning communities (24-0489; 24-0657). Eleven learning communities with access for 263 students were planned for fall 2023. Assessment for these communities is in place so we can gauge impact on students at the end of the fall 2023 semester. In the future, we hope to have 80% of first year students involved in a learning community by 2030. After each implementation, the data collected is analyzed with the learning community instructors. Discussion then ensures how to make the instruction more effective and determine if the courses are meeting their objectives and helping students achieve their goals.
In addition, the Institute for Learning and Teaching Excellence (ILTE) uses research on best instructional practices that have been shown to increase persistence and completion. ILTE helps faculty to make changes in teaching based on this research. Examples include cohort training (24-0490), workshops on high impact practices, online modules for professional development training, and the annual Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference (24-0664).
The institution's processes and methodologies for collecting and analyzing information on student retention, persistence and completion of programs reflect good practice. (Institutions are not required to use IPEDS definitions in their determination of persistence or completion rates. Institutions are encouraged to choose measures that are suitable to their student populations, but institutions are accountable for the validity of their measures.)
IU Southeast's processes for collecting and analyzing retention, persistence, and completion information, as detailed above in sections 4.C.1-3., reflect good practice and form an essential part of our culture of continuous improvement (115).