Promoting student success: What campus leaders can do

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Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research


Graduating more students and increasing the quality of their learning are national priorities. Every college and university can improve in these areas by focusing on the educational conditions that matter to student success. Decades of research studies show that a key factor is student engagement--the time and effort students devote to their studies and related activities and how institutions organize learning opportunities and provide services to induce students to take part in and benefit from such activities. The guiding principles offered here are based on an in-depth examination of 20 diverse four-year colleges and universities that have higher-than-predicted graduation rates and demonstrated through the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) that they have effective policies and practices for working with students of differing abilities and aspirations. These institutions value high quality undergraduate teaching, diversity and support for all students. They clearly communicate and hold students to high standards, provide timely feedback, and encourage students to actively engage with course content and faculty and peers, inside and outside the classroom. When they complement the institution's mission and values, these conditions can create powerful learning environments that lead to desirable learning outcomes that are generally independent of institutional resources or students' background.



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