In today’s data-driven world, wouldn’t it be silly to think we’re dedicating resources to programs that are poorly measured?
As strange as it is, that’s often what happens with campus events.
While events and programming continue to be a portion of an institution’s budget, learning outcomes and goals of programs are rarely measured in the days after an event, if at all.
It’s important to gather and analyze data from every event, at a micro level, to make decisions across the board. Data can help highlight a program or departmental effectiveness, and it can help you be proactive before sending out surveys to understand what gaps you’re missing in data.
Collecting & Connecting More Data
A lack of data around student engagement often means not knowing exactly what students need. Even when events are categorized to attract specific students, we may still miss the mark in truly understanding what types of meaningful experiences they’re looking for.
Typically there’s no shortage of data at universities; however, the way data is housed and collected can be problematic in terms of access and analyzation for various departments. What we see now with distinct data initiatives, often includes missing data, and making decisions with what each office as in-hand.
So it’s time we ask,
“How do we connect pieces of data, that are disconnected or silo’d, in a way that is organized and easily communicated?”
What’s the solution?
For starters, it helps to be consistent about measuring things like engagement, student learning, or even something that seems small like post-event engagement. As an industry, we need to create processes where we can track everything that we can to understand all aspects of engagement and involvement. There are a lot of important metrics you can track with new technology.
A variety of tools can be used to collect data in real-time. Arming your student affairs or student life division with the right technology to track student engagement goes a long way to help get the data you need, and connect the dots along the way.
Personalizing Student Engagement
Data about individual students or groups of students can help inform the direction of resources, and at what level they’re at in terms of engagement (i.e. passively engaged, a student leader, etc). Further, obtaining data from events can also help inform us about our own behaviors and habits when we plan on-campus events for the students we serve.
Personalizing student engagement adds value to the co-curricular experience and helps professionals understand where they should be focusing their efforts.
Erwin (1991) discusses assessment and helps us reflect on how we can use new technology in a holistic way:
“Assessment is the systematic basis for making inferences about the learning and development of students. It is the process of defining, selecting, designing, collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and using information to increase students’ learning and development.”
Integrating technology that is centered around holistic assessment practices is the first and most important step in reaching students based on their individual needs.
McGraw-Hill Education’s third survey on digital study trends in higher education found that technology plays a huge role in student engagement. Peter Cohen, McGraw Hill’s Education group president of U.S. Education explains,
“Students today have an almost insatiable hunger for instant and continual feedback. By using technology to deliver learning experiences that leverage those motivations, we can capitalize on an enormous opportunity to improve learning outcomes.”
The future of student engagement includes more students playing an active role in controlling what, when, and how they’re interacted with. Collectively, technology solutions foster collaboration, invokes more creativity by giving back time to professionals, and maximizes student engagement in a way that reflects the needs of today’s modern college student.
Meaningful data drives better decisions and helps tie student engagement to actionable goals. Being able to access data and use it to make decisions that impact the student experience and the future of our institutions, is no longer an option, but a necessity.
How are you aiming to collect better event data this year?
What data is collected in relation to campus programming and events?
We’d love to hear from you. Tweet us @HelloPresence to continue the conversation.
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