HLC Quality Initiative: Sustaining Student Success

Executive Summary

Northeastern State University (NSU) began its Quality Initiative, Sustaining Student Success, in the summer of 2017 with the following goals: 

  • Focus on students'; definitions of "success"; related to their professional and educational goals
  • Improve individual student success
  • Improve institutional success by better aligning academic, student support, and student engagement systems

The project focused on understanding students' educational mindsets and goals, identifying potential impediments to their individual goals, and implementing practices designed to help students persist and achieve their goals. The project considered two cohorts first-time, full-time students and new transfer students.

Project team members consulted literature and white papers on academic and social integration, cocurricular experiences, and personal growth fulfillment. They engaged student focus groups to learn what matters to students and then developed student surveys which were deployed in fall 2017, 2018, and 2019.

The QI Sustaining Student Success project evolved as a result of changing circumstances. In spring 2018, NSU was invited to participate in a two-year Gardner Institute Foundation of Excellence (FoE) project, partially funded by a private foundation. Working with six other institutions, the Tulsa Transfer Project's goal was to improve transfer experiences for students in the Tulsa metropolitan area. At that point, the work originally planned for the transfer student component merged with the FoE initiative.

Since 2018, the QI project components have become a regular part of the work of NSU's General Education Committee, Developmental Education Committee, Retention Committee, and Tulsa Transfer Project Committee. Processes, programming, and curriculum for first-time freshmen and transfer students have been updated through the following projects:

  • Implement predictive analytic and early alert tools to identify struggling students.
  • Revise and align Welcome Week programming and the UNIV 1003 University Strategies curriculum. 
  • Expand placement course placement options to allow more students the opportunity to take college-level courses without remediation.
  • Implement co-requisite workshops to support students with deficiencies in mathematics and writing.
  • Strengthen intake advising appointments for transfer students.
  • Update and streamline information on the transfer student landing pages.
  • Standardize articulation agreements and cross-institutional communications.

In May 2020, NSU submitted its final report to the Higher Learning Commission. NSU's continuous improvement philosophy directs that this work will continue, and NSU will move forward to complete additional action items related to transfer student services, improve student supports, and sustain student success in coming years.

NSU'S Quality Initiative is rooted firmly in four documents and initiatives:

  1. The Strategic Plan 2015-2023
  2. The Degrees of Excellence Institutional Assessment Plan
  3. Destination 2023: A 10-year road map of distinction through degree completion
  4. Current work with HLC's Persistence and Completion Academy

The Goals and Objectives of the report include:

  • Focus on students’ definitions of "success” related to their professional and educational goals
  • Improve individual student success
  • Improve institutional success by better aligning academic, student support, and student engagement systems

NSU'S Quality Initiative is rooted firmly in four documents and initiatives:

  1. The Strategic Plan 2015-2023
  2. The Degrees of Excellence Institutional Assessment Plan
  3. Destination 2023: A 10-year road map of distinction through degree completion
  4. Current work with HLC's Persistence and Completion Academy

As NSU works to further these initiatives to build a strong foundation, your feedback is needed. The purpose of the Open Pathway Quality Initiative Proposal is to provide the university the opportunity to convey steps it will undertake to fulfill the Improvement Process.

The Goals and Objectives of the report include:

  • Focus on students' definitions of "success" related to their professional and educational goals
  • Improve individual student success
  • Improve institutional success by better aligning academic, student support, and student engagement systems

Please take time to read and review the Draft HLC Quality Initiative (pdf). Your suggestions for improvement are appreciated.