Transforming Student Success: Moving from Insight to Action by Democratizing Data across the California State University
The California State University (CSU) Chancellor’s Office partnered with Mathematica to learn more about how the CSU community was engaging with the Student Success Dashboard and identify transformations in practice that resulted from its use. Mathematica interviewed 21 individuals, including 10 faculty and 11 staff members and administrators. These practitioners hailed from campuses big and small, from commuter schools to more residential settings, in varied geographic regions across the state and serving California’s uniquely diverse student population.
The primary purpose of the interviews was to determine how practitioners leveraged data to generate new insights; took action to improve teaching, advising and student engagement based on these insights; and then measured and fine-tuned results. The interviews revealed that many practitioners use the dashboard for purely transactional purposes— for example, accessing information about the number and types of students served to support a grant application, or determining the number of course sections needed. Although positive outcomes can emerge from these transactional uses, this brief emphasizes how the dashboard data have sparked true transformations in practice, helping practitioners identify and dismantle barriers to student success. These case studies offer valuable lessons not only for their CSU colleagues but for other institutions of higher education across the country.