Thursday, June 12, 2014

Competition and Challenges in Recruiting Non-Traditional Students

The vast majority of UMA students are working adults balancing jobs, families and education. This past fall semester nearly 6 out of 10 students were attending part-time and nearly 7 out of 10 students were age 25 or older (average age 29). 

Currently, more than 80% of students receive a Pell Grant, an award that does not have to be repaid. 50% of recent graduates who responded to our Graduating Student Survey (61% response rate) in the fall (2013) and spring (2014) semesters reported that they were the first in their immediate family to earn a degree.

Over the last year (Summer 13, Fall 13 and Spring 14) UMA accepted 2,735 students with 65% or 1,776 enrolling at UMA. So what happened to the other 959 students that UMA accepted? 

The Office of Institutional Research and Planning queried the National Student Clearinghouse database to  track the enrollment, if any, of these 959 students that did not attend UMA after acceptance as of May 28, 2014. 

Our analysis identified that -
  • 31% (295 students) were enrolled at another institution
  • 69% (664 students) were not enrolled in post-secondary education (i.e., at another institution)
The 31% or 295 students that did enroll at another institution after acceptance at UMA enrolled at the following types of institutions -
  • 34% chose another University of Maine System campus with the University of Maine as the unequivocal top choice
  • 32% chose a Maine Community College with Kennebec Valley and Eastern Maine Community Colleges as the top choices
  • 10% chose an In-State Private institution with Thomas College as the top choice (institution group included Kaplan University and Southern New Hampshire University)
  • 24% chose an Out-of-State or Online institution with no clear top choice (institution group included 2-Year and 4-Year Public, Private and For-Profits)
The majority of students were degree-seeking in a variety of academic majors. 

Additionally, we are in the early stages of contacting the students that UMA accepted but have not yet enrolled at UMA or another institution to better understand the reasons for non-enrollment and how UMA could facilitate enrollment. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Comparison Group: Measuring Institutional Performance

A committee of faculty and staff have completed the selection of UMA’s updated comparison group. This comparison group will be used to compare performance, practices and policies of this group of institutions to gain insight. 

The comparison group includes 11 Public, Four-year or above institutions (not ordered):

1. University of South Carolina-Beaufort
2. Athens State University
3. Ohio State University-Lima Campus
4. Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Brandywine
5. Georgia Gwinnett College
6. Indiana University-Kokomo
7. Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Altoona
8. Clayton State University
9. Purdue University-North Central Campus
10. Missouri Western State University
11. Bluefield State College

The IPEDS Data Center, College Navigator and visiting each institutions website were the primary sources of information to contextually filter the list of institutions. It should be noted that the Committee considered a variety of other meaningful variables (i.e., Pell Grants, Open Admissions, Distance Education etc.) which winnowed our institution list to very few or zero. 

The primary data variables selected that derived the list include:
The following list of institutions were the previous comparison group developed during the implementation of the 2009 UMS Strategic Plan: New Challenges and New Directions.
  • Clayton State University 
  • Great Basin College 
  • Indiana University-Kokomo
  • Louisiana State University-Alexandria 
  • Purdue University-North Central Campus 
  • Rogers State University 
In the Fall 2014 semester the Committee will again gather to develop an Aspirant comparison group to inform our strategic planning and goal-setting.  

Friday, May 16, 2014

NSSE 2013: Level of Academic Challenge

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) has organized sets of questions and responses into 10 Engagement Indicators (EIs). These EIs have been summarized into 4 themes: 
  1. Academic Challenge
  2. Learning with Peers
  3. Experiences with Faculty
  4. Campus Environment
This post highlights Academic Challenge findings. This theme includes 4 EIs:
  1. Higher-Order Learning
  2. Reflective & Interactive Learning
  3. Learning Strategies
  4. Quantitative Reasoning 
Click here to read the full Executive Summary No.2. 
  • Overall, more than 80% of students indicated that UMA emphasizes spending “significant time studying and on academic work.” More than 66% report that their courses are highly challenging.
  • Compared to peers, students spend significantly longer hours weekly preparing for class. 
  • Amount of reading and writing is comparable to peers. 
  • Students’ quantitative literacy is significantly lower than peers. On average, students’ quantitative reasoning was significantly lower (p<.05) with an effect size of less than .3 in magnitude, that is, there is a less than 5% chance that this result could have been produced by chance and the observed difference is not only statistically significant but also meaningful. 
  • Higher-Order Learning, Reflective and Integrative Learning, and Learning Strategies indicators received equivalent levels of learning engagement to peers.
Executive Summary No.3 will be available in June that will highlight High-Impact Practices

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Findings from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)

UMA has participated in NSSE in 2007, 2010 and 2013.

NSSE has identified that student engagement symbolizes 2 important attributes of quality:
  1. Amount of time and effort UMA students put into their educational activities
  2. How UMA provides opportunities and encourages participation in activities that accumulated research have shown are linked to successful student learning
NSSE provides the opportunity for UMA to compare our students' responses with those of students at self-selected groups of comparison institutions. The survey questions are informed by accumulated research on student learning behaviors associated with successful outcomes of an education.

UMA uses the survey data to identify aspects of the educational experience, inside and outside the classroom that can be improved through policies and practices more consistent with good practices in undergraduate education.

Click here to read about the survey administration and responses from the Spring 2013. Overall, the survey achieved a 47% response rate with 508 first-year students and seniors completing the survey.

Executive Summary No.1 highlights the 5 Strengths and 5 Challenges among 53 survey questions relative to UMA’s selected comparison group.

Strengths & Out-Performed Comparison Institutions
  • Quality of interactions with faculty, academic advisors, student services and other administrative offices (e.g., Registrar, Financial Aid and etc.)
  • Faculty provided prompt and detailed feedback on assignments and were effective in using examples to explain difficult concepts
Challenges & Fell Short among Comparison Institutions
  • Discussions with people from different race/ethnic, economic and religious backgrounds
  • Opportunities to collaborate with other students on assignments and explain course material to other students
Over the coming weeks and months the Office of Institutional Research and Planning will share additional snapshot analyzes and a more comprehensive review of progress since the 2007 survey administration.

Source: NSSE (2014, April 2). About NSSE, Retrieved from http://nsse.iub.edu/html/about.cfm

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Continued Focus on Student Retention

The process of NEASC reaccreditation asks UMA to share information on student retention appropriate to our mission. Clearly, the traditional student cohort used in calculating retention rates, that is, First-year, Full-time Associate or Bachelor’s students (i.e., IPEDS Cohort), represents a very small percentage of our 6,500+ student body. 

Consequently, in preparing our report we have made a concerted effort to analyze the performance of several different student cohorts (e.g., Part-time students), recognizing the value of trends in data and importance of success these cohorts of students have on our goals for success. 

Click here to retrieve a snapshot trend report of student cohort retention rates. 

The report provides a 4-year average of retention rates for new students/admissions attending UMA including a semester-to-semester and annual analysis. 

The current cohorts available are - 
  • Total New Students/Admissions
    • First-year students
    • Readmitted students
    • Transfer students
  • Full-time or Part-time status
  • Location/Campus: Augusta, Bangor, University College or Online
  • Degree-level
  • Outcomes-Based Funding Programs
  • IPEDS or Traditional Students
  • Transfer Credits: greater than 30 or 90 credits
  • Maine Community College transfer students
As an example:

The middle columns of the report represents the 4-year average performance of Fall semester new students/admissions. 

Over the 4 years, UMA enrolled 5,057 new students in the Fall semester with 3,950 or 78% returning the following Spring semester and 2,809 or 56% returning one year later in the following Fall semester (first red row in report). 

Additionally, over this same Fall time-period UMA enrolled 1,037 new students that transferred credits to UMA from a Maine Community College with 839 or 81% returning the following Spring semester and 652 or 63% returning one year later in the following Fall semester (last orange row in report).

Additional looks at the data are available by semester and other cohorts of interest are in development. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Graduates Pursuing Higher Education

The landscape of higher education is changing rapidly and disruptively. The NEASC reaccreditation process provides the opportunity for UMA to evaluate our position in the growing competitive environment and performance in the 'attainment goal'. 

NEASC has designed the Documenting Student Success Forms (S-Series) for institutions to share data on measures of student success. One measure is the incidence of students pursuing higher learning after graduation. 

Subsequent student enrollment and degree data was provided by the National Student Clearinghouse  allowing the Office of Institutional Research and Planning to query and track post-secondary enrollment and graduation of our alumni. 

The primary interest of our analysis was to better understand the percentage of graduates that continue their education at a higher level, the institutions our graduates are attending and the programs or academic disciplines graduates are enrolled in after graduation. 

Click here to retrieve the full snapshot, trend report with segmentation by awards and institutions.

As an example:
In 2009-10 (Summer 09, Fall 09, Spring 10) UMA awarded 598 students with an associate degree, bachelor's degree or certificate. 

As of January 2014, 187 or 31% of the 598 graduates had enrolled at a higher education level and/or graduated with a higher degree/certificate than their UMA award. 

319 of the 598 graduates earned a UMA bachelor's degree in 2009-10. As of January 2014, 54 or 17% had enrolled in and/or graduated with a graduate certificate, master's or doctoral degree. UMA graduates attended/graduated from the following institutions - 
  • University of Maine, 24% (13)
  • University of Southern Maine, 11% (6)
  • Non-University of Maine System Institutions, 72% (39)
In our analysis, a student who enrolled-in/graduated-from more than one institution (e.g., University of Maine and Thomas College) would be counted once in both University of Maine (UM) and 'Other' categories therefore, the total percentage may be greater than 100%. 

Furthermore, 221 of the 598 graduates earned a UMA associate degree in 2009-10. 46% of associate degree graduates (101 of 221) continued their education at the bachelor's degree level with 96% continuing with UMA. 

Additional reports including by academic program are available upon request. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Improving Institutional Engagement: Don't Know?

University of Maine at Augusta ©
UMA’s institutional assessment survey modeled after the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program helps us look for ways to effectively and efficiently meet our mission and achieve vision. Our continued NEASC accreditation requires periodic review of not only academic programs but administrative areas as well. UMA launched this continuous improvement process in 2008-09 and it is linked with UMA’s Strategic Plan Key Goal 7.

This analysis follows the category Index Score Comparison posted on January 8, 2014. The survey asked faculty and staff to answer each question in the survey with a 'yes’, 'somewhat', 'no' or ‘don’t know’ response. The first three (3) answers were used in the Index Comparison analysis, while this analysis focuses on the last answer, ‘don’t know’.

The chart above shows, for each of the 7 categories, the percentage of respondents who on average replied ‘don’t know’ to the category’s questions in 2008-09 vs. 2012-13. In this context, a ‘don’t know’ percentage of 100% would mean that all respondents answered ‘don’t know’ to all questions in this category, whereas 0% would mean that no respondent answered ‘don’t know’ to any question. As an example, while this percentage was higher for some Student, Stakeholder and Market Focus category questions and lower for others, the average percentage responding ‘don’t know’ to a Student, Stakeholder and market Focus question was 32% in 2008-09 and 31% in 2012-13. 

Now referring back to the  Index Score Comparison, although most index scores improved, there is still comparable proportions of ‘don’t know’ responses between the two surveys. The weighted ‘don’t know’ percentage is critical to the survey analysis because it implies that some faculty and staff did not have sufficient information to respond to certain questions.  

With this in mind as work continues on this year’s category, Student, Stakeholder and Market Focus, the Baldrige Improvement Committee is committed to identifying strategies to help improve the transparency, communication and availability of information related to this category and improve the ‘don’t know’ percentage.