Objectives and Strategy
Student and Instructor Success Analytics (SISA) is a program in UW-IT’s Academic Experience Design & Delivery (AXDD) unit. SISA’s mission is to improve the student and instructor experience through analytics applications and cutting-edge data science. Each year, we recount the progress on the past year’s objectives and discuss our objectives for the upcoming year.
During the 2021-22 academic year, the SISA Program met most of its objectives and expanded the scope of one objective. Unexpected turnover led to a lack of engineering resources this past academic year, delaying the launch of Compass, the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity’s (OMA&D) advising toolkit (objective 1). The timeline has been adjusted as noted in this year’s objectives below. Objective 1 also included expanding the Retention Analytics Dashboard (RAD) to serve UW Athletics and piloting RAD with an academic department. We exceeded this expectation by launching RAD for UW Athletics and two large academic departments: College of Engineering and the Information School. Our second objective was to support academic discovery by launching DawgPath. In addition to launching DawgPath in early 2021, we were able to release features that were slated for AY 2023-2024. Our final objective was to pilot a data platform for a learning records store. With the withdrawal of Unizin from a proposed pilot, we have pivoted to explore a new opportunity, and engaged with UCSD Information Technology Services to learn about their Student Activity Hub (SAH) analytics platform.
The SISA Program’s principal objectives for 2023-2024 are: (1) Launch Compass for OMA&D (2) release DawgPath’s course outcome feature and obtain funding in order to make DawgPath more personalized, and (3) partner with UCSD to develop the infrastructure needed for the launch of a learning records store.
Reflecting on our AY 2021-22 objectives
Our first objective of AY 2021-2022 was to develop and launch a new version of Compass, OMA&D’s advising application. The team did not meet this goal due to unexpected engineering turnover during this time. Although we did not launch, the team made strides toward developing a Person Data Store that is critical to Compass’s success. Further, our UX team prepared wireframes and our data science team developed prototypes in preparation for the replacement engineer. Objective 1 also included expanding the Retention Analytics Dashboard (RAD) to serve UW Athletics and pilot RAD with an academic department. We exceeded this expectation by launching RAD for UW Athletics and two large academic departments: College of Engineering and the Information School.
Our second objective (academic discovery efforts) was to combine the insights of two production applications (Pivot and PrereqMap) into a single experience called DawgPath. In addition to launching DawgPath in early 2021, we were able to release features that were slated for AY 2023-2024, which include supporting students and advisers to identify gateway and bottleneck courses.
Our third objective was to determine the best platform to drive our analytics work and begin a pilot. Unfortunately, Unizin withdrew from the proposed pilot. However, we have discovered a new opportunity with UCSD Information Technology Services’ Student Activity Hub (SAH) analytics platform, which we will pursue this upcoming academic year.
Objectives, AY 2022-23
1. Launch Compass, a student success advising dashboard for OMA&D
In 2019, AXDD and OMA&D began a partnership that aimed to increase student retention in the Educational Opportunity Program and other vulnerable students, which led to the development of RAD. Currently, this tool is accessed via a link in Compass, a legacy homegrown advising platform that includes detailed student information and notes from advising appointments. Despite the usefulness of the tool, the technology that powers Compass needs to be modernized. Working closely with OMA&D advisers and their leadership, AXDD will redesign and pilot a new Compass, with a goal of launching the tool in Autumn 2023. In the short term, a redesigned Compass with new and improved features will greatly benefit OMA&D, which supports the students who struggle the most with finishing a degree at UW. It is important to note, this is also an opportunity to lay a foundation for developing a campus-wide student success platform that replaces the outdated tools advisers are currently utilizing. Conversations with UW-IT leadership with regard to this prospect is another SISA objective.
2. Launch new features for DawgPath and secure funding to provide a personalized experience for DawgPath users
This past academic year we launched DawgPath, a popular academic discovery tool. This academic year we will release the following features in DawgPath:
- Focus students on the degrees and course options that work for them by developing a course, major, and minor recommendation engine, based on a student’s specific academic interests.
- Make academic exploration easier for students by implementing search across course and major descriptions by keyword, such as “climate change” or “analytics.”
- Launch a tri-campus major exploration feature to empower students with visibility of similar majors offered across the three campuses.
- Provide career insights that help students connect the dots between majors and careers. Dawgpath will do so by developing a feature that lists the degrees that led UW graduates to their first job. For example, a student can view the majors that led UW graduates to become Business Analysts.
While we are optimistic that UW-IT leadership will prioritize this work, another objective is to seek out and secure funding to ensure these important features will further aid student discovery.
3. Partner with UCSD to begin building out the LRS infrastructure
Unfortunately, during the past year, the LRS project was set back by the withdrawal of Unizin from a proposed pilot of the Unizin Data Platform. The LRS team pivoted to explore a new opportunity, and engaged with UCSD Information Technology Services to learn about their Student Activity Hub (SAH). The SAH is a data analytics platform that helps higher ed institutions gain insights into student engagement and academic performance, drawing on both SIS and learning tool data sources. A project charter was drafted, outlining the scope and objectives of a pilot of the SAH; the main objective is to support discovery and innovation in academic analytics, with secondary goals of supporting AXDD applications, learning about reporting tool integration, and access processes. The SAH will also enable collaboration with peers, where all can benefit from views developed to support common use cases. Since UCSD also uses the Canvas LMS, and they have already accomplished the transformation and enrichment of Canvas data, UW would immediately gain the benefit of the curated views of the learning tool data. While there is still a bit of ambiguity as we move forward, our objectives this academic year are to (a) finalize an MOU with UCSD, and (b) plan onboarding and implementation activities, (c) and begin implementation.