How is the College using technology to fundamentally redesign advising and student support services? This type of reform—often known as integrated planning and advising for student success (iPASS)—is intended to touch all students throughout their educational careers.
Community College of Philadelphia was awarded an Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS) grant by Achieving the Dream in 2015. The College had made progress on multiple fronts in fully integrating its software platforms for seamless services to students, faculty and staff. A main goal of the iPASS grant was to develop a single login. This was accomplished in fall 2016. Now using a single login, the College community can access MyCCP, Canvas, Starfish, Degree Works, email, and other tools via one portal.
To directly address the College’s advising component of iPASS, the College hired and trained seven full-time advisors in summer 2016. Beginning in fall 2016, full-time advisors have been assigned to new students in the following curricula: Accounting, Business, Computer Information, Liberal Arts, Health Care Studies, Psychology and Justice. Students work with these advisors to develop educational plans with tools such as Degree Works.
Early Alerts / Starfish Connect
Advisors and counselors now make use of Starfish Connect. Starfish Connect provides an academic early alert and case management system to support student success and connect the numerous student support services. After completing a pilot in summer 2015, the College implemented Starfish across the institution in the 2015-16 academic year. During that year, 493 faculty members provided feedback to their students using the system. Faculty raised flags, kudos and referrals for 9,717 individual students in the fall and 9,570 students in the spring for a total of over 37,000 tracking items. As part of this implementation, training has been provided to faculty, advisors and staff, with a website devoted to Starfish offering numerous resources. Additional various training activities have been planned, including training faculty to train other faculty and having a session during the College’s Professional Development Week. Progress has continued in 2016-17, with increased usage of Starfish by students, faculty, staff. Advisors, and counselors use Starfish for scheduling appointments with and monitoring students.
Starfish Update for 2016-17:
The use of Starfish has continued to expand, notably to full-time advisors and counselors. Full-time advisors were connected in Starfish to their particular caseloads of students (which encompassed about 75% of new incoming students). Creating this connection in Starfish allowed students to go to My Success Network on the student Starfish dashboard and make online appointments with their assigned advisor. Advisors in turn could filter their assigned students, allowing them to easily track student progress (flags, kudos and referrals). The Advising Center also launched a student sign-in kiosk in Fall 2016. When students arrive at the Advising Center, they are able to sign-in on a computer kiosk. Since this installation, over 4,000 students have met with a full-time advisor via scheduled appointments using Starfish. Such a kiosk with Starfish for scheduling has also been stationed in the Counseling Center at the main campus and may be installed at the regional centers. Both full-time advisors and counselors utilize the Notes feature, which is configured so that they can add information to a student's record without creating an appointment. This allows information to be shared between the two departments, making the transition of students from receiving services from one department to another a more seamless experience.
Access to Starfish has been made easier. Previously, to access Starfish all users had to enter Canvas LMS. With support from the IT department, users are now able to click on a Starfish icon and sign directly into Starfish. It is hoped that providing easier access to Starfish will increase the number of users (students, faculty and staff). Likewise, access to training has also increased. The College currently has three faculty members trained to provide support to their peers. Faculty training has expanded to include sessions at the regional centers, in addition to the main campus. The faculty trainers are also in the process of creating very short tutorial videos that will be available to faculty on the College's webpage.
In 2016-17, Starfish was used by 598 individual faculty; this was an increase of 20% over the previous year. In the past year, there have been increases not only in the number of faculty who use Starfish but also in the number of tracking items (kudos, flags, and referrals) sent. In the last year more options have been available to faculty, including 20% Progress Surveys and customized communications. The number of individual students receiving at least one tracking item increased from 9,717 in Fall 2015 to 10,169 in Fall 2016. The number of tracking items sent also increased from Fall 2015 to Fall 2016, from 18,951 to 30,315. Additionally, the number of referrals to campus resources (such as Learning Labs) made by faculty almost doubled from 2015-16 (495 referrals) to 953 in 2016-17.
The College has begun to analyze Starfish data. Specifically, outcomes data related to referrals has been positive. In Spring 2017, 303 referrals to the Learning Lab were made. If a student who received a referral visited the Learning Lab, the likelihood of passing the course in question increased. Of students who received a referral but did not visit the Learning Lab (214 students), 49% passed the course. Of those students who received a referral and did visit the Learning Lab (89 students), 65% passed the course. The Student Success Initiatives office will continue analyzing data to determine effective practices and areas for improvement.
With predictive analytics tools, an institution can use past and current data to predict trends and behavior patterns in order to make decisions. Predictive analytics use has recently increased in higher education. Community College of Philadelphia is now using a predictive analytics platform as part of its evidence-based decision-making. With its current software, the College uses comprehensive student characteristics data, including demographics, student status, and past performance, to calculate the likelihood of a student being retained the following semester. The platform also calculates “powerful predictors,” thus highlighting characteristics that might be highly correlated with retention. One can then look at specific subgroups of students using filters, which include: degree program; first-term cohort; full-time vs. part-time; completed terms; GPA; financial aid; course modality; developmental education; gender; ethnicity/race; and age. For these subgroups, the platform is then able to provide a list of students who could then be targeted for an intervention.
The College has an institution-wide Student Success Team (comprised of faculty, staff, and administrators) which meets biweekly. Within this team is a sub-group that does in-depth analysis with the predictive analysis platform. This sub-group is cross-functional, with counselors, advisors, learning lab specialists, faculty, Institutional Research staff, and administrators. The sub-group has been making consistent progress with utilizing predictive analytics to determine possible ways to support student success. Information gathered via the predictive analytics platform is then disseminated to the larger Student Success Team and to additional stakeholders.
The College has already instituted several interventions meant to increase student success based on predictive analytics data. Examples of interventions developed or cultivated based on predictive analytics data so far include:
- Encouraging some part-time students to take 9 credits instead of 6.
- Encouraging students in developmental education courses to make steady progress through those courses early in their studies to enter into their program of study sooner.
- Developing a withdrawal statement to be included on syllabi.
- Identifying “buckets” of students to contact, with specific College units/staff responsible for the outreach efforts.
- Reviewing Starfish data to determine effective practices.
- Encouraging students taking one course per semester to increase to two or three courses.
- Contacting students from recent fall cohorts with few remaining credits to encourage them to complete their degree in the coming semesters.
MyCCP Mobile App
The College launched the MyCCP mobile app in Fall 2016. Students can use the MyCCP mobile app to search, register and pay for classes, check their financial aid, log in to Canvas, check their student email, and add and drop classes. Since the app was introduced, there has been more than 30,000 downloads (as of July 2017).