At IU Southeast, the student experience unfolds within a culture of assessment, analysis, and improvement. IU Southeast has undertaken systematic and targeted reforms to improve student persistence, retention, and success. Our assessment efforts embrace course-level, program-level, and institutional-level learning. Stemming from our participation in the HLC Persistence and Completion Academy, the IU Southeast Persistence and Completion Council (PCC) was formed to nurture a culture of transparent, data-informed, and cross-functional goal setting and decision making across campus as they relate to retention initiatives. Created in 2016, the position of Dean for Student Success and Persistence leads efforts to improve campus performance in this area.
Student learning is at the core of our mandate, and thus at the heart of annual faculty reviews, promotions, tenure, and teaching awards. Program assessment begins with identifying student learning outcomes which are used to build a layered assessment program with many of the assessment products embedded into courses. The Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE) works with faculty throughout the assessment process to ensure that assessment tools are aligned with outcomes. Where possible, assessment tools are designed to automatically feed data to OIE. OIE then analyzes the information, providing feedback to the Academic Assessment Committee and to individual programs. Academic Programs and General Education are expected to make use of the results of assessment processes to drive data-informed pedagogical change. Evidence of using assessment data for the improvement of student learning is found in the annual Academic Program Assessment Reporting process.
Assessment of student learning is not limited to academic programs. Co-curricular programs also develop student learning outcomes and work with the OIE to directly and indirectly measure student learning. Work in this area is still in its infancy but initial results are promising.
To supplement and enhance our efforts, we have acquired and implemented a variety of resources and tools that aid in assessment, analysis and improvement, including the Student Engagement Roster (SER), Watermark Software’s Learning Achievement Tool, and membership in the Education Advisory Board (EAB).
IU Southeast has also used grants and collaborations to bolster retention and persistence. In 2015, the First Year Retention Student Transition (FYRST) Grant, furthering the success of students who receive state aid, helped enable a system for professors to connect with first-year students who had received academic warnings, among other outcomes. IU Southeast was one of 44 institutions selected to participate in the AASCU Re-Imagining the First Year of College project (RFY). The focus of this collaborative learning community was to redesign the first year of college in order to achieve greater student success. We continue to innovate and scale up persistence initiatives across campus. For example, the SER is an early student performance alert used to identify students of all class levels who need help and allows for greater granularity and range in faculty reporting on student performance.