Getting students in the door is only half the battle, and arguably the easiest part. Making sure they cross the finish line is another challenge — and just as important when it comes to ratings that measure an institution's worth, like those offered by U.S. News and under consideration by the Obama administration.
Fortunately, a number of solutions are now on the market, ranging from standalone services to tools connected to familiar platforms from familiar names like Blackboard and Pearson. With a variety of benefits touted by each, it can be hard to determine which is right for your institution. We've compiled the following list to give readers a quick rundown of several widely used options, but rest assured there are plenty more where these came from.
1. Starfish Retention Solutions
Starfish aims to scale student success across a number of solutions focused on early alerts, support networking and case management, advising, and big data analytics. Among the perks offered are seamless integration with existing student information and learning management systems, per-institution customization, and an easy-to-use "faculty-friendly" interface (because there's always at least a couple of tech-resistant professors out there). Over 230 institutions, ranging from four-year public and private to 2-year schools, use Starfish, including the University of Missouri System, the University of Chicago, and the University of Cincinnati.
2. Blackboard Retention Center
This solution comes bundled right in the popular Blackboard Learn LMS and requires no setup. The company is no stranger to retention solutions — Retention Center is actually a replacement for the previous Early Warning System with improved workflows. The idea here is that faculty can be notified, based on a combo of preset and custom rules, when a student is struggling or at risk of failing. The tool also features easy-to-read visualizations that provide a quick overview of student engagement and participation.
3. EBI MAP-Works
MAP-Works offers solutions on both the faculty and student ends using real-time analytics, strategic communications, and statistical testing and outcomes reporting. For faculty, this means at-risk students can be quickly identified, efforts can be coordinated with other faculty members via alerts and notes, issues can be identified prior to meetings, and benchmarks can be set against other institutions. Struggling students, on the other hand, can use the platform to identify and address behaviors and gaps that negatively impact their social and academic success, as well as utilize available campus resources. MAP-Works apps are available on iOS and Android devices, with the addition of a Facebook app for students.
4. Ellucian Banner, Colleague, and Degree Works
Founded in 1968, Ellucian serves over 2,400 higher ed institutions worldwide with student information systems and other technology. Among its student success solutions are Banner, Colleague, and Degree Works. The Banner Student Retention Performance platform utilizes scorecards, dashboards, reports, and analytics to identify at-risk students, calculate retention and degree completion rates, identify which programs are doing the best at graduating students on time, evaluate retention and intervention strategies, and more.
Meanwhile, the Colleague Student Planning and Degree Works platforms simplify the advising process, providing pre-loaded degree programs with built-in progress indicators that tell whether a student is on track, avoiding classes that won't count toward degree progress, and giving advisors additional info on at-risk students. There are, of course, differences between the two. For example, Degree Works also simplifies the transfer process, helping to increase enrollment.
5. Pearson MyStudentSuccessLab
As more education publishers have adapted into full-fledged ed tech companies, many have created their own platforms for tracking student success. Pearson is an excellent example of this with MyStudentSuccessLab. The platform develops a personalized completion pathway using a research-based model developed by the University of Oregon's Dr. David Conley. Additionally, its other features include a homework and test manager, online course content, gradebook tracking, and learning management system integration.
6. Hobsons Radius with AgileGrad and Retain
Another publisher-turned-ed-solutions-provider, Hobsons has a number of success and retention solutions available to the colleges and universities that are among its more than 7,500 clients. With Radius with AgileGrad, institutions can develop personalized degree plans for students, adapting them to factors that include multiple programs, ideal elective courses, and any situations that might impact when a student can attend classes. Advisors can then keep track of and stay in touch with students to provide support and assistance, especially if they become at risk of falling off track or dropping out. Retain, on the other hand, provides early alerts to assist institutions in flagging and intervening, and also keeps both students and faculty in the loop on activities, alerts, and other efforts.
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