Benefits of Tracking Student Involvement: What You’re Missing

Until now, student affairs professionals relied on head counts and struggled to decipher handwritten student names and emails on paper sign-in sheets to track student involvement on campus.

Anyone who’s ever scuffled with keeping track of student involvement on campus has an idea of how an engagement platform is a valuable tool for institutions: particularly those who are looking to move away from archaic processes and make informed decisions through data.

How do student affairs professionals improve programs and practices if they don’t understand what involvement looks like?

Here are the top benefits of why your institution should consider tracking student involvement – regardless of size, type, or location –  with card-swipe technology to help you get started!

Tracking Involvement at Campus Events

Make the case with these benefits of tracking student involvement:

1) Provide meaning behind events

Events planned purposefully encourages students to become more involved, thus creating a more meaningful college experience.

Know the reason(s) why you’re planning events for students. Use student involvement tracking to help you create effective learning outcomes and learn more about students wants and needs to help you plan the best events.

2) Obtain data about attendees in real-time

Who is attending and not attending your events? When a student swipes into an event use software to break down attendee information like:

  • Class year
  • Specific major
  • Gender
  • First-time attendee

… and the list goes on!

See demographic and student data in the forms of charts and graphs, created by software, allowing you to make the best decisions surrounding student life.

3) Write detailed reports with accurate data

Some professionals dread the end of the year (EOY) report.

Procrastination, no more!

Create reports daily, weekly, or monthly and understand how to make changes right away – expand your perspective from only making changes to events and practices from year-to-year. Improve campus events with effective assessment through accurate data to make the most of your reports and meetings right away.

4) Reduce student affairs meeting times

Tell a story with event data and create clarity about what student success looks like on macro and micro level. Use examples to include what involvement looks like for on and off-campus students, specific majors, or first generation students. An engagement narrative communicates to campus life stakeholders which priorities they should focus their energy.

A great example is sitting in a student affairs meeting with fellow directors and the Vice President of Student Affairs (VPSA). The VPSA asks about involvement of first-year and sophomore students living on campus. Luckily, you have the ability to pull up data analytics quickly on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop to answer any questions.

Limit student affairs meetings by answering questions on the spot and pull up data that is easily digestible in the form of charts and graphs.

5) Obtain additional funding for campus events, or your department

Raise your hand if you’d like more funding for events or programs. Most student affairs professionals do!

Now think about the ways utilizing attendee data from events can help set you up for success: accurately allocate money based on hard data and provide students with meaningful experiences. Prove that the hard work, time and effort your student affairs division dedicates to programs and practices to best support students is paying off.

6) Understand why students are attracted to events

Monitor trends in event attendance and engagement. There’s a mountain of reasons why students attend events. Use tracking involvement to answer questions like – did our attendees come to our events because of the great food, location, or the type of event we offered?

7) Enhance the way you market and communicate with students

Today, 94% of first-year students are on social networking sites and more students expect processes (like applications and room selection) digitized through up-to-date technology.

Understand how marketing through specific mediums impacts engagement (online and in-person).

Use the first five minutes of an event to optimize marketing and get the feedback you’re really looking for as a busy #SApro.

8) Understand student personas better

Look at the various traits and characteristics of students you want to engage. The different types of students you identify will fulfill some type of persona, or what each student represents in terms of background, interests, needs, concerns, and motivations. If you’re looking to attract students to programs or events, you need to know who they are and what interests them.

9) Track attendee involvement history

See a detailed record of which events each student has attended on campus.

Use involvement history as a way to create new student learning outcomes to use as a tool to assess future events. Involvement history through tracking is another way for SA pro’s to see if students have achieved learning outcomes of co-curricular involvement.

10) Provide an extra layer of security at campus events

Not only do you get to see how many students attend an event, but as attendees are signing in you can verify if they’re a student and sign-in guests through the check-in process.

No need to ask staff to perform head counts or use clickers (room for human error) to understand if you’re under fire code for an event. Did a crisis or something impactful happen at an event? Easily contact students post-event to relay any important messaging.

11) Predict future student involvement

While you might not see immediate results in order to predict student involvement in a week or a month – over the course of a semester or year you’ll be able to start predicting attendance based on behaviors, personas, and involvement history.

Contextualize Involvement with Real-Time Card Swipe Technology

Real-time card swipe technology is the best way to add context to the involvement tracking you’re collecting. By starting with technology, student information can be verified on the fly and connected directly to events and organizations, along with important student attributes and demographics, that can help find correlations and opportunities for improving decisions and reaching more students.

Tracking Student Involvement is Just the First Step

Implementing technology-based student involvement tracking at institutions helps contextualize tracking and creates a culture of continuous assessment.

Knowing how and having a plan to collect, structure, analyze, and take action with data will help set you up for success. Check out these simple steps below:

  1. Accessibly collect & structure information – Use mobile card swipe technology to make it accessible, portable, and contextualized from the beginning
  2. Visualize & understand data – Compare data over time and analyze student behavior to comprehend the larger engagement picture at your institution. What does student involvement really look like, what effects it, and how does it change?
  3. Optimize events with quantitative data – Tell a story through effective assessment to fully understand student engagement and how to make adjustments to engage more students and improve decision making.
  4. Make it a habit for everyone – Create a culture where everyone on campus plays a role in helping collect and analyze involvement data to get the holistic picture of involvement and it’s role in success with goals such as retention. Having everyone on board makes the data that much stronger on micro and macro levels.

If you’re looking to start tracking student involvement and interested in increasing engagement and retention on campus, the benefits above are a great place to start arguing your case.

Interested in learning more about how our software can help you track student involvement? Sign-up for a free demo and chat with an Engagement Specialist (a real human) about how Presence can enhance engagement and retention on your campus!

Kayley Robsham

About the author: Kayley Robsham is the former Community Engagement Manager at Presence, the complete student engagement platform. Learn how we can help get your students involved.

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