News & Events / Minority-Serving Institutions Identify Innovative Ways to Use Data and Measure Success of the 21st Century Student

Minority-Serving Institutions Identify Innovative Ways to Use Data and Measure Success of the 21st Century Student

Published May 13, 2014

Washington, D.C., Oct. 18, 2012—With the right type of high-quality data—including demographics, academic history, enrollment status, financial aid, and course information—Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) are able to implement policy and programmatic changes that bolster postsecondary completion. Such is the case with select institutions participating in the Lumina MSIs-Models of Success initiative and through this initiative have shared their lessons learned about data collection and analyses. In a new policy brief released today from the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) titled Using Data to Improve Minority-Serving Institution Success, eight project teams of MSIs reveal how “collaborative” data can be used at all points to better support students from enrollment to graduation and contribute to the entire U.S. higher education landscape.

To help all institutions improve their data systems, the brief provides institutional examples including:

  • Salish Kootenai College (SKC) and Fort Peck Community College undertook an action research program focused on identifying the factors that contributed to retention and success of American Indian postsecondary students who required developmental coursework in mathematics and English. Based on the results of their research, SKC modified its placement process to ensure students would be enrolled in the correct academic and support courses. Proper identification and subsequent placement of students in need of development education have led to an increase in student success at SKC and Fort Peck Community College over the past four years.
  • The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso Community College, Texas A&M University, and Prairie View A&M University collectively established an iterative and dynamic process of data collection and analytics from which they looked to address issues related to first-time students. These schools now regularly generate reports that identify specific groups of first-time students who may require additional support, and offers follow-up services to these students including workshops on developing academic strategies to help them succeed in their first year of college and beyond.
  • In order to assess the efficacy of their Dual-Degree program, Miami Dade College (MDC) and Florida International University (FIU) worked collaboratively to establish a continual process to collect and analyze relevant data. Several analyses have been conducted resulting in changes to institutional practices. The FIU admissions office has changed its invitation letter and updated their website to include additional program information. In addition, with many students communicating a lack of clarity about FIU’s degree expectations, an FIU advisor is now available on MDC’s campus several days a week to assist students in this process.

“Our work in the Lumina MSIs-Models of Success initiative brings to light the importance of all institutions making a paradigm shift from collecting data for compliance purposes to using data to inform decision making,” said IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D. “Regardless of where an individual college or university may be in the development of its data system, it is crucial that these institutions utilize the data they currently have as well as expand their efforts to help improve student persistence and attainment.”

The Lumina MSI-Models of Success initiative focuses on ways to meet national college completion goals, especially for first-generation students, low-income students, and students of color. The three-year initiative embraces a collective MSI success agenda and has five objectives:

  1. To improve the capacity of MSIs to collect, analyze, and use data to inform decisions that will promote student success;
  2. To create a collective voice for policy advocacy on behalf of MSIs;
  3. To strengthen policy and practice to improve developmental education;
  4. To increase MSIs’ commitment to transparency and effectiveness in improving student learning outcomes; and
  5. To increase the postsecondary completion of traditionally underserved students, especially men of color.

As the key intermediary for the initiative, IHEP is providing support and dissemination of the project findings to inform the higher education success policy agenda at the federal, state, and institutional levels.

The Lumina MSI-Models of Success grantees are:

  • American Indian Higher Education Consortium
  • California State University-Monterey Bay
  • Florida International University
  • Jackson State University
  • Salish Kootenai College
  • Southern Education Foundation
  • University of North Carolina System
  • University of Texas-El Paso

For more information about the Lumina MSI-Models of Success program or to download a free copy of Using Data to Improve Minority-Serving Institution Success, visit IHEP’s website at