Monday, April 20, 2015

Database Location Decisions-When to share a database location between college programs.

One of the more difficult decisions to be made when deploying AccuSQL across a campus or when adding entities to an existing system is whether or not to place all entities on one database or give some, or all of them separate databases. The general criteria used to come to the best decision is often based on the following:

·         How often entities would be able to make good use of tracking data collected by other entities.
·         The level of sensitivity of the tracking data collected within an entity.
·         How the management of several databases impacts the technical staff charged with their maintenance.
·         The funding sources for each entity.
·         The scope of reporting needs for both the individual entities as well as the institution.

Based on the above criteria, the types of entities most often placed on a separate database include grant funded programs, student behavioral or health related programs, disabilities services and programs where there is no need to store all students on the student table. Types of entities that almost always share a database include student affairs departments (advising, financial aid, registration, new student orientation), student life, housing, fitness locations, honors programs, and student support programs (tutoring, mentoring, supplemental instruction). Using this criteria should result in the ability of the separated entities to report more easily to their outside funding source while the entities sharing a database location can leverage cooperation between themselves for the sake of student success. The more entities share databases, the more institution wide reporting will have the ability to address a student’s usage of resources from the moment the student registers for a new student orientation onward to when the student graduates. Institutional reporting becomes more comprehensive the more campus entities use a shared database.

Here is a list of pros and cons to consider when deciding if your department/program should have a separate database location:

Pros of a Separate Database
§  Avoids commingling student records between services offered by different funding sources.
§  Allows the program to use the unique student profile to pre-qualify prospective participants when services are offered only to eligible students.
§  Allows the program to project participation rates by tracking recruiting processes.
§  Safeguarding of sensitive records.
§  Easier report creation as filters for non-participants are not needed.

Cons of a Separate Database
§  Technical support will have to repeat updates and imports for the separate database.
§  Usage of other campus resources by participants will not be viewable in the separate database.
§  Campus partners will not be able to view usage of resources by participants in the separate database.
§  Resources available elsewhere on campus will not be included in the Individual Educational Action items for users in the separate database.
§  Individual Educational action items assigned by other programs and departments will not be viewable by users in the separate database.
§ Institutional reporting will be not be seamless and will have more opportunity for duplication issues.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Individual Educational Action Plans for an SSS Grant Competition

Many of our customers are currently writing a TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) grant so there have been many questions posed to us here at Engineerica concerning the AccuSQL Student Success Plan. Individual counseling is a crucial piece to a successful SSS program however, documenting this interaction has always been difficult and time consuming. While many TRiO programs use different titles for their plans, the purpose of an individual education action plan, or success plan as we call them in AccuSQL, is to provide a student with a clear set of objectives which will lead them to success in college. The following statements may be useful for TRiO SSS programs who use, or plan to use AccuSQL 2015:

For the plan of action section of the TRiO grant:

Through the use of AccuSQL student tracking software to document face to face interactions, individual educational action plans (IEAP) will be designed for each participant. The software allows the program to house all of the resources available to participants at both the program and institutional level as action items. When program specialists meet face to face with participants, they will utilize the ability in the software to assign the action items to individual students as a plan for success. The software will document the plan for both the specialist as well as the student. Action items on an individual educational action plan can be set as completed once the student makes use of the suggested resource. Students will receive reminders via email and or text of uncompleted items in their IEAP.

For the evaluation plan section of the TRiO grant:

In order to access the impact program resources have on student success, the individual educational action plans of all participants will be analyzed by cohort. Assessments comparing the use of program resources as well as institutional resources to the rate of persistence to graduation can be conducted. Program resources that have a strong correlation with successful students will be further enhanced while program resources that are not strongly correlated to student success will be reviewed. This method can assist in the determination of which allowable services should continue to be supported by the program and which institutional resources work best for program participants.

In order to assess the impact individual counseling has on student success among the participants, the individual educational action plans can be analyzed with respect to assignment completion rates. When specialists offer individualized counseling, the resulting action taken by the student should support that student’s success. The action item completion rates on the IEAPs stored in the student tracking software can be compared to the students’ persistence to graduation as well as to fall to fall persistence. Low rates of completion for IEAP assignments should correlate with attrition in the program as well as the institution. A low frequency of assignments in a plan should also correlate with student attrition as the student is not receiving enough personal contact from program staff or others on campus. Both assessments will give the program insight to remedies for the provision of effective individual counseling.