When the topic of student success comes up at higher education conferences, you will nearly always see a room full of engaged attendees nodding their heads in approval. Who wouldn’t? Increasing student success is an important and worthwhile goal for any institution and almost every one has room for improvement.
In these sessions, however, it soon becomes clear—or rather, unclear—which type of “student success” the presenter is focusing on. The reason for this lack of clarity? Too many discussions of this topic do not parse out the exact meaning of “student success.” Do we mean career attainment, persistence to graduation, student achievement, or one of many others? Instead, we tend to collapse the different types under one umbrella and assume everyone is on the same page.
From a technological point of view, the impact of this lack of clarity is significant. The multiple meanings of the term make any attempt to determine which student success solution to acquire challenging. Compounding this lack of transparency is the growing number of technology solutions in the marketplace claiming to support different types of student success, such as career readiness solutions, retention technology, or learning analytics.