Use of data to keep at-risk students on track earns USF an award
TAMPA — The University of South Florida knows it needs a boost in its student retention rate to reach preeminence — and a higher funding level.
And its strategy for making that happen is catching the attention of others in the higher education world.
USF’s use of predictive analytics in retaining first-year college students won a national award this week from the National Research Center for College & University Admissions.
The award recognized the way USF uses performance data to help at-risk students from falling through the cracks. The university’s student persistence committee gets weekly reports of at-risk students so it can pinpoint their issues, then guide them to the appropriate people or programs for help. Then it makes sure students are getting the services they need.
“By intercepting a student at the first sign of an issue, we can get them back on track so they thrive and advance to their second year, greatly improving their odds for degree attainment,” said Paul Dosal, USF’s vice president for student affairs and student success.
Since implementing the process, USF’s first year retention rate has increased from 88.2 percent to 89.97 percent — its highest rate ever.
That puts USF just short of the benchmark 90 percent the Board of Governors requires for preeminence.
NRCCUA, which provides colleges with data-driven solutions, honored USF with the Eduventures 2016 Innovation Award for “Defining and Reporting Outcomes.”