Case Studies Highlight Use of Student-Level Postsecondary Data

By Alain Poutre' , Research Analyst, Institute for Higher Education Policy

The Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU), in partnership with the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), released a series of 14 case studies last month that highlights the use of student-level postsecondary data on campuses across the country. The use cases serve as examples of how institutional leaders can leverage these data to improve student learning and completion efforts. 

Public Institutions and Systems Complete List

Colorado State University
Florida International University
Georgia State University
Miami Dade College
Middle Tennessee State University
Morgan State University
Ohio University
Temple University
Tennessee Board of Regents
University at Buffalo
University of Michigan
University of South Florida
University of Texas at El Paso
University of Texas System

The series includes a variety of public institutions and systems from across the country, including historically black colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions, research universities, and regional universities.

The series demonstrates that while institutions take different approaches to data use, all of them ultimately focus on student success. For example:

  • Temple University used student performance data to inform and assess a test-optional admissions policy that would align with institutional commitments to access and affordability.

  • The University of Michigan implemented a digital coaching platform to offer students personalized assistance with large classes, helping them avoid common mistakes and adopt best practices for success.

Many of the colleges and universities featured in the series experienced gains in specific measures of student success. For example:

  • Florida International University used student-level data to improve course completion rates in science and mathematics.

  • Morgan State University employed a number of data-driven strategies to increase their annual student retention rates.

  • The University at Buffalo reduced students' average time-to-degree, and increased the share of students completing a degree within four years by more than 20 percentage points.

As a growing proportion of postsecondary students in the United States defy the typical “traditional” student profile, the student population reflects more diversity and variability than ever. This variability among students calls for more finely tuned ways of understanding their circumstances and helping them achieve their full potential. In this context, access to student-level
data—and its effective use—is increasingly essential to counting all students and supporting their success in college.

The case studies provide clear examples of how such data can be harnessed to improve admissions policies, support retention efforts, target advising programs, decrease time-to-degree, and boost degree-completion rates for students. Explore the case-studies in-depth at and follow them on social media using #Data4Students.



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