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Graduating more students and increasing the quality of their learning are national priorities and Oregon is implementing 40-40-20 to improve student attainment. Due to demographic shifts, institutions must maintain institutional quality and reputation by building capacity to successfully serve an increasing numbers of first-generation and under-represented students. Educational institutions that fail to develop the capacity to serve a diverse student body, with varying ability, will face existential challenges.
Research has shown that institutions can surpass the limits set by institutional resources and students’ backgrounds by engaging students in high quality learning experiences, organized around clearly articulated learning outcomes, supported by high-impact practices, and project redesign using assessment of student learning and program effectiveness.
While there is significant research on factors that have an impact on student success, there are few models that outline how institutions can successfully implement student success initiative. Retention efforts are also distributed across the schools and colleges. This typically results in an institution developing a patchwork of programs, which are not effectively coordinated, where success of one program is negated by the actions of another project on campus, resulting in little or no progress in improving student success.
Case Study: At Portland State University we have implemented a Portfolio-of-Initiatives framework, developed by McKinsey and Company, to develop strategy, and manage implementation. Using a Portfolio-of-Initiatives approach has required us to focus on:
• A disciplined search for a variety of initiatives with the highest possibility of success.
• Rigorous monitoring of projects and sub-projects, with a focus on action.
• Supporting the champions.
• Scaling up successful ideas and projects and winding down unsuccessful projects and changing course when needed.
Portfolio-of Initiatives includes projects that aim to: improve effectiveness of existing academic policies and services; support early identification of students at risk; intentional advising and charting a pathway to degree completion; improve communication; address academic needs of students with a High School GPA below 3.0; address financial concerns; ease transition to college using peer mentoring; improve persistence of Freshmen living in residence halls; make student success data available at unit level; reduce the number of courses with preponderance (20%) of D, W, F grades; manage capacity of programs and course offerings for timely progress to graduation.
Summary: This session will focus on the theory and practice of developing institutional student success initiatives. We will offer Portfolio-of-Initiative implemented at Portland State University as a case study for the participants.