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5 Institutions Building Data Literacy to Support Student Success

A new cohort of higher education institutions is delving into the use of data to improve retention and completion through the Data Literacy Institute, a program developed by the Association for Institutional Research (AIR) and offered by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) as part of its Powered by Publics initiative. This fall, Bowling Green State University, Illinois State University, Miami University of Ohio, Tennessee State University and the University of Maine will each convene cross-departmental teams of up to 20 participants who will learn and apply data literacy skills to a unique student success challenge at their institution, according to a news announcement.

The Data Literacy Institute launched in 2020 with the goal of helping APLU member campuses better use data to boost student success. During the 12-month program, participants engage in virtual training through a peer-learning community designed to help them become more comfortable using data, feel more confident talking about it, and in turn make data-driven decisions that lead to better student outcomes. Ultimately, AIR aims to develop a program model that will be continued at participating institutions and available for adoption by other colleges and universities across the country, the organization explained.

"Public universities have long recognized the immense value of using data to track and improve student success, especially for students from underserved populations,"commented Denise Nadasen, assistant vice president of institutional data and analytics at APLU, in a prepared statement. "The Data Literacy Institute will work to bolster data literacy not just in Institutional Research offices, but across campus and especially among key decision-makers. A greater and improved use of data can make a real difference in a university's ability to help more students succeed."

"Unlocking the tremendous potential of data to inform better decisions and increase the success of all students requires universities to invest in the knowledge and skills of faculty and staff,"added Christine Keller, AIR's executive director & CEO. "The Data Literacy Institute is an important step in recognizing the importance of institutional-wide data literacy and its role in building stronger connections among data providers and data users to close equity gaps for the benefit of students."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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