Driving Toward a Degree is a research collaborative which helps institutions evolve their student supports.
In this year’s research, we designed a methodology to measure progress towards equitable academic outcomes by race and ethnicity, represented by data on how the needs of Black, Latinx, Indigenous (BLI) groups, and students with financial needs differ from those of White students. The data also reflects how the scaled implementation of certain advising practices and technologies plays a role in closing gaps in graduation rates by race and ethnicity.
We frame our work around an academic outcome gap using the methodology we developed to include historically underserved minorities in higher education as part of the norm (rather than solely White students).
Leveraging this new segmentation based on outcome gaps, we interrogate mindset, practice, and technology implementation data from Driving Towards a Degree to see if we can identify key areas of investment that may drive differences in progress towards closing graduation rate outcome gaps for Black and Latinx students.
Briefly, our methodology disaggregates institutional graduation rate data (150% of normal time) by race and ethnicity and compares that institution-specific figure to the sector average (including all races and ethnicities). We measure this “gap” in the most recent data available to us to see how it has changed in relation to the same measure from 10 years prior. We then segmented our survey responses into institutions that have seen this gap narrow over time (positive movement for equity in this academic outcome) versus institutions that have seen the gap widen over time.
We find that mindset – i.e., attitudes about commitment to equity –is consistent across the outcome gap narrowed versus outcome gap widened institutions in our sample set. Both types of institutions believe equity is a priority in the design of their advising practices and believe that technology has a role in creating more equitable academic outcomes for BLI students and those with financial need.
In contrast, we find that institutions with narrowed outcome gaps have statistically significant differences in caseload numbers (and reported caseload manageability), and deployment of select advising technologies compared to institutions that widened their racial and ethnic outcomes gaps over the last decade. Specifically, the implications of these findings for the advising field are far-reaching:
Our work has many implications for the advising ecosystem: