Student Retention in a Self-Paced, Competency- Based Program. Rebecca Garrett, Associate Director Personalized Learning

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1 Student Retention in a Self-Paced, Competency- Based Program Rebecca Garrett, Associate Director Personalized Learning

2 Framing the Conversation Interactive: please ask questions or offer your thoughts throughout CBE Overview: landscape-level context for retention challenges and strategies NAU s Model: how Personalized Learning works Retention Challenges, Strategies, and Takeaways

3 Takeaway Points The necessity for a shared vocabulary and understanding of unique programs, such as competency-based education a landscape-level approach. Preparing the student to maximize retention, persistence, and satisfaction. CBE requires unique and specific data use every resource!

4 Landscape-Level View: What is CBE?

5 An Example: Personalized Learning

6 More About Us Funded by a $1 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation via EDUCAUSE Charter member of the Competency-Based Education Network First online, competency-based, bachelor s degree programs offered by a public university Part of our Extended Campuses division, which offers in-person programs across Arizona and online programs anywhere

7

8 The student and mentor track progress real-time in the student dashboard, the hub and entry point for all activity. As lessons are completed, they are recorded on a competency transcript. When a student completes all the pieces or lessons comprising a traditional credit hour course, the grade (A or B only) is recorded on the student s traditional transcript.

9 https://youtu.be/kudso5p1ozw

10 Questions? About CBE? About Personalized Learning?

11 Why does the model impact retention measures? The only set period of time is the subscription period itself: 6 months (26 weeks). Students can start any day, resulting in 365 subscription start dates per year. Students can take a break of any length between subscriptions (up to the university s discontinuation deadline) and come back for another subscription, picking up right where they left off. Students can work at any pace, unless they are meeting financial aid requirements (which is another set of rules).

12 Key Takeaway 1: Shared Vocabulary Competency-based education is growing, but without a clear, shared language that is consistent across programs. Hasn t yet permeated the business world, creating barriers to key benefits such as employer-paid tuition. Major barrier for military students, as the Department of Defense is not recognizing CBE. Requires a deeper explanation and careful onboarding. The right fit is even more important because student assumptions are no longer accurate.

13 Competency-Based Education Network

14 Takeaway 2: Preparation = Retention Online self-assessment: Is Personalized Learning Right for Me?

15 Once They re In It s flexible! It s flexible?

16 Tracking Student Activity Non-attendance taking, non-term, selfpaced, online, distance model that serves non-traditional students, most of whom are working full-time, have a family, and were unsuccessful in a traditional model.

17 The Student Older: between 25 and 54 More than 75% are working full-time Majority are female Bring in a variety of transfer credit some applicable, some not Experience with online education but never earned a degree Half receive federal financial assistance Low cost and flexible nature are the most appealing elements of the program

18 Takeaway 3: Your Data is There (how you use it is up to you) Department of Education Specific Title IV Requirements Accreditors Donors/Funders National Student Clearinghouse Other state and federal bodies Most of all, we needed to track and intervene intrusively

19 The Primary Example: Financial Aid and the Academically Related Activity Clear definition of activities based on the Department of Education as they pertain to Personalized Learning submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam, completing an interactive tutorial, or participating in computer-assisted instruction; participating in an online discussion about academic matters; or initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course. The student is required to conduct at least one activity each instructional week. See page 63

20 How do we track it? What does this mean for the Personalized Learning Student? We must track student action. Students must do one of the following at least once weekly. Submit an assignment or complete a mastery project Take a pre-test, post-test, or engage in an online exercise Participate in a discussion Initiate contact with a faculty member about the academic content All of this lives in your learning management system or with your faculty.

21 What do we do with it and how? Image source: EDUCAUSE

22 Mentor and Staff Outreach and Intervention Mentors and staff can pull reports based on mentor assignment, program, and weekly academic activity. An academic plan provides benchmarks is the student ahead or behind? The mentor match is important aligning student and mentor styles is a key factor.

23 Some Preliminary Data and Challenges What is retention in such a flexible model? Some consistency with the rest of the university: year-to-year persistence Focus on completion rates: Lesson completion Graduation Accelerated path: Key indicator for students who can attain it Some students enroll and stay because they can go at their own pace, which may be slower

24 Some Preliminary Data and Challenges What is retention in such a flexible model? Some consistency with the rest of the university: year-to-year persistence 785 unique students 22 have been inactive for a year or more

25 Some Preliminary Data and Challenges Focus on lesson completion and graduation rates: finding trends is difficult

26 Some Preliminary Data and Challenges I chose the PL program because I do not do well in a traditional academic environment (2 or 3 classes only in a quarter or semester system). I was attracted to the notion that you can complete courses you already know just by testing out of them. The value of this coursework both financially (extremely reasonable tuition), and as far as time (the ability to complete courses faster than a traditional classroom environment) factored into my choosing NAU PL. -real student quote, 31 years old, combat veteran

27 Questions?

28 Beyond the Model: Retention and Persistence Through the Administrative Hurdles

29 The Journey to Enrollment and Graduation Requires Persistence Prospective Student Readiness Assessment Transcript Evaluation by Undergraduate Admissions Program-specific transfer credit evaluated by Personalized Learning Application/Admission Financial Aid Processing or Payment Subscription Start Self-Paced Subscription Repeat as necessary

30 Wish List We re Not Perfect Yet Motivational messages from industry partners Peer mentors Incentive scholarships (piloting it now) Enhanced intervention tools such as dashboard holds

31 Rebecca Garrett nau.edu/pl

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