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Knowing Our Students: Understanding & Designing for Success

Published: May 16, 2021

New from ASN core partner Achieving the Dream, comes a guidebook designed for institutional leaders and student success teams who are ready to talk openly about the students they serve and who are eager to learn practical strategies from national experts and peer institutions. We can’t design an experience that meets our students where they are unless we holistically understand who they are.

For the past few decades, institutions of higher education have been making strides in the collection and use of data to inform their decisions. From enrollment data to student surveys, outcome metrics to predictive analytics, institutions collect more information on how their students move through their educational journey than ever before. These data have informed decisions on almost every aspect of the institution, providing leaders with tangible evidence of what’s working and what needs to be addressed to increase student success.

Section 1: Knowing Students

  • By the end of this section, there will be a clear picture of the types of data traditionally collected by institutions, and an outlook of potentially untapped data sources that support efforts to know students.

Section 2: A Closer Look at the Student Experience

  • By the end of this section, there will be a greater understanding of the importance of recognizing the myriad experiences that students encounter — both on campus and off — based on their background, identity, and lived experiences. This section invites readers to take an in-depth look at the institutional structures, processes, and attitudes that impact student experiences and outcomes.

Section 3: Collecting the Data

  • This section identifies multiple ways to gather or collect data on students’ identities and experiences beyond the foundational data sources. The importance of uncovering student perspectives, voices, and experiences before setting out to redesign inclusive campuses is emphasized.

Section 4: Using Data to Design the Student Experience

  • This section identifies the final three steps in the student-centered design process and provides a framework for moving from data to idea to action.

Additionally, the Guide includes two worksheets practitioners can use to assess student needs and follow a student-centered design process.