“Maybe stories are just data with a soul,” says author Brene Brown. Data is an essential, though often invisible, part of the many stories made at the University of California, Irvine. And the unsung heroes of these stories are the data superstars at the Compass Project. Comprehensive Analytics for Student Success (or Compass) is a cross-functional project among the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (OVPTL), the Office of Institutional Research (OIR), and the Office of Information Technology (OIT).

Through Compass, academic advisors and other student support staff have access to comprehensive reports that provide insights into undergraduate student success. In short, Compass is an easier way to get undergraduate student data, understand that student data, and effectively display that student data to advisors and instructors.

Compass ensures that academic advisors have access to timely student data to facilitate identifying and reaching out to students, whether to inform them of scholarship opportunities, academic possibilities, or to encourage more timely completion of degrees.

Said a representative of the school of Engineering “I have been able to run reports myself, no requests for the Registrar’s Office. With Compass, it takes mere minutes to compile the information I needed!”

That’s because the close student data partnerships with OIR, the Registrar, and Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) ensure that advisors have access to the undergraduate student data they need when they need it. Much of what Compass does is essentially invisible to students, but the student data and reports it provides to advisors means that those advisors can better use their time for engaging with students, including students that they might not have had time to meet with in the past.

Said a representative of the school of Social Ecology, “It’s really easy to sort and find specific populations of students.  It’s helped with programming and outreach for programs like Honors programs and events, a program for low-income students, a program for first-generation students, etc.”

Compass is effective because of its collaborative approach to creating useful, actionable reports for advisors. The 2016 pilot of Compass Descriptive provided advisors with two reports tailored to produce bulk undergraduate student data on demographics and academic progress. After this successful pilot, the Compass team and advisors partnered to create four new reports to monitor other aspects of academic progress and offer new ways to look at course-specific information. Each report is crafted to meet the needs of advisors, from the tools provided to slice-and-dice the data to the output created for each report.

Compass also collaborates with the Division of Teaching Excellence & Innovation (DTEI) to get resources directly into the hands of instructors via the in-pilot Course Demographics Insights report. This new report is  currently in a limited pilot with a small group of Senate faculty with plans for broad availability to other faculty sometime in 2018. The partnership with the advisors has been a powerful one; all of the reports are created to their specifications, so they’re getting exactly the student data they need so they can focus on working directly with students, rather than having to work in spreadsheets.

The project also directly supports Pillar 2 in the UCI Strategic Plan, “Bright Past, Brilliant Future,” by providing tools to aid in student retention and engagement, as well as helping enhance academic advising services. The Compass reports also supplies consistent information to all UCI academic advisors, making sure that everybody is working from the same set of student data and assumptions.

Find out more at http://sites.uci.edu/compass/

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