A Data Driven Resource for Evolving Student Supports

Driving toward a Degree 2021: Overcoming Persistent Barriers to Student Success

Four areas of concern are identified as perennial issues to improving success for all through student supports

4 Areas of Focus: Capacity, Coordination, Student Engagement, and Equity

Driving Toward a Degree is a research collaborative which help institutions evolve their student supports. This year’s research examines barriers to improving advising in higher education and we are honored to have over 2,800 respondents, representing over 1,300 unique institutions, participating in our survey. Each year, we ask advisors, student support professionals, and administrators about the barriers to improving advising on campus. Where we see cause for concern is that colleges and universities perennially identify the same challenges since 2017.

In a series of three research briefs, we characterize the challenges, outline practices, and describe technology deployed to address problems related to caseload capacity, coordination across student supports, and student engagement. We also provide some ideas for institutions to consider if they want to move the needle in these areas without additional financial investment. In a fourth and final research brief, we examine how equity intersects with these three challenges.

Please click on your area(s) of interest below to learn more. Click on the button below to download each research brief. Additionally, make sure to subscribe to have the research briefs and future student success insights delivered to your inbox.

Download our latest research

Caseload’s Impact on Student Success & Advising Practices

In the first of four research briefs we focus caseloads as a perennial barrier to improving advising.

Key insights:

  • Caseload impacts whether certain advising practices can be scaled
  • There is a statistically significant negative relationship between the size of caseloads and retention rates at four-year institutions (public and private)
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Delivery of a Seamless Student Experience

In the second of four research briefs, we focus on lack of coordination across departments as a perennial barrier to effective advising and student success.

Key insights:

  • The most collaborative institutions see statistically significant increases in student retention at four-year institutions and large two-year institutions
  • All sectors (2-year, public 4-year, and private 4-year institutions) believe lack of integration across technology solutions to be the top barrier for implementing advising technologies
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Engaging Students in a Post-Pandemic World

In the third of four research briefs, we examine student engagement, and the ways in which institutions can improve upon services to meet the needs of an everchanging student demographic.

Key insights:

  • Providing student support during COVID-19 was challenging; however, the pivot to virtual learning opened a new channel for online support and engagement
  • Low student engagement with technology was the second most-cited barrier for advising; two-year institutions and institutions with higher proportions of Pell-eligible students most acutely feel this barrier
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Equity: Prioritization & Practice

Equity and access are tantamount to defining student success higher education. To drive towards more equitable outcomes, we must measure the extent that institutions can all deploy equitable practices at scale.

Key insights:

  • Institutions serving diverse student populations deploy advising technology at similar rates as institutions serving primarily white students
  • However, students do not all have equitable access to advising technology nor do students engage with advising technology equitably
  • Advisors across all institutions believe representative diversity across support staff and students would be impactful
View Study Tile
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