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Elevating student learning through data-driven insights

How ASU Online’s Success Coaches are using data dashboards to support online students

One student sits in front of a computer with another student behind them smiling.

Two ASU students work together on a school assignment, tapping into the data-driven resources backed by the Success Coaches. ASU photo

August 24, 2023

The fall 2023 semester at Arizona State University is underway and already one for the books, with the university projecting over 144,000 enrolled students to engage in learning on campus and online.

Topping the charts with over 65,000 students registered through ASU Online, such a large class comes with a diverse set of learners’ needs that must be supported to ensure academic success.

Enter ASU’s Success Coaches, who play a vital role in supporting students throughout their time at the university, helping them better manage their time and stress, offering assistance with exploring career and professional paths, providing resources and more. 

To do so, Success Coaches leverage academic data dashboards — built and managed by developers on the data and analysis team at ASU Enterprise Technology — to foster meaningful relationships with online students using real-time data. This data-informed, personalized approach is a factor in improving retention and graduation rates to prepare students of all backgrounds for life beyond the university. 

“Many of our online students are first-generation learners, people who maybe have not had that intentional, personalized academic support before,” said Cassie Bozin, a Success Coach lead with EdPlus at ASU. “They might not know how to use a planner and break it down, and that's where our coaches come in to provide that support — because the data is telling us that each learner needs a specific type of support to reach their goals.”

Success Coaches juggle hundreds of students simultaneously. Their leadership team equips them with key data about each student’s performance, allowing data to guide the coaches’ outreach efforts. They communicate most frequently with students at risk of failing or dropping out, offering targeted help ranging from access to student services to assistance with agenda planning and goal setting. Meanwhile, students who are on track academically receive check-ins, ensuring they remain on course, but receive less intensive communication, allowing coaches to focus on those in greater need.

A cornerstone of their methodology is effective communication, a process initiated during the pivotal transition as students enroll in their first year at ASU. Using a collaborative approach, team leads work with analytics teams to track thousands of degree-seeking, online students as they advance through their courses, providing the data that Success Coaches need to tailor support for students as their academic paths unfold.

“The data is so important to support our charter and our connections with the learners,” said Bozin. “These are learners who need us, and if we're not managing the cases, from a data perspective, we're not managing those connections.”

Using data from platforms such as Canvas, ASU's student-facing dashboard, the color-coordinated data dashboards serve as a critical alert system for Success Coaches.

For Success Coaches, these dashboards will signal a possible course withdrawal if a student starts missing classes or neglects assignments. The alert will prompt the coach to connect with the student to provide personalized support.

“Our approach involves using data trends and student behaviors to identify opportunities for outreach and intervention,” said Nicolette Miller, senior director of student success initiatives at ASU. “Understanding that this work is not done in a vacuum, our coaches try to take a proactive approach equipped with the necessary context to provide the right support — rather than reactively handling cases as they come in.”

This comprehensive support strategy takes into account key elements, such as graduation timelines and goal setting with students, which lays the foundational groundwork for their academic path to success.

“Identifying trends, such as recurring issues or broken links in class materials that negatively affect student success and cause frustration, is crucial to being proactive,” said Daniela Moreno Diaz, Success Coach lead at ASU Online. “When we spot such patterns, our approach is to address them before they escalate into more significant problems.”

Equipped with data underlying their communication strategies, Success Coaches assist in guiding students to a range of services that extend beyond the classroom. These resources may include counseling services or child care assistance, making each student feel part of the ASU community while acknowledging their distinct, multifaceted needs.

“We don't shy away from challenges — instead, we analyze them, creating tailored, strategically realistic plans for students to succeed,” said Bozin. “The power of our work lies in its personalization, honing into each student's unique needs as revealed by the data.”

Behind the tech

Every day, ASU leverages data-informed insights about its people, environments and products to create a foundation to work, learn and thrive. To do so, a team of data analysts at Enterprise Technology have created hundreds of data dashboards to provide near-real-time insights to teams and units across the enterprise. In addition to the data dashboards provided to Success Coaches, these include daily enrollment reports for the university registrar, reports on financial aid disbursements, graduation rates and statistics on faculty and employees by college or campus, to name a few. 

Using tools like Tableau, thousands of reports are shared to ensure analysts at ASU have the data they need to make the best choices to support students.

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