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Graduation and retention rates tell a part of the equity story, but how do you measure the experience students are having during their undergraduate career?
Developing DEI scorecards and dashboards to share equity metrics with the community has been a major focus of the diversity work happening at colleges and universities across the country. After serving on EAB’s Innovation Council and attending Connected 2019, I was encouraged by the work that EAB’s Pavani Reddy, Managing Director of Product Strategy and Development, to think about creative new ways to measure the equity of the undergraduate student experience. As part of EAB’s Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship program, I partnered with Dr. Misty M. Bennett, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs for the College of Business Administration, as she works to develop a DEI scorecard at Central Michigan University. These scorecards tend to provide to the public demographic data about the makeup of the student, faculty and staff populations as well as graduation and retention data that is disaggregated by demographic. These data provide a critical starting point for examining equity gaps at institutions of higher education. However, these data don’t measure the full experience of undergraduate students during their undergraduate careers. Many questions remain about whether the best practices that colleges and universities tout in admissions brochures are available equitably to all students. At Seaver College, the flagship undergraduate college at Pepperdine University, I collected data from 17 different metrics to capture a fuller picture of the DEI landscape across our best practices.
The internal metrics that I gathered data for fell into three categories: Academic Best Practices, Scholarships and Access to Student Services and Opportunities. In the Academic Best Practices category, I measured student participation in undergraduate research, internships, Great Books 1, Great Books 4, international programs, applications to national fellowships, and the number of students who built an academic plan in Navigate. In the Scholarship category, I examined the demographic breakdown of students receiving the Regents or Seaver scholarships (our highest dollar value scholarship, these are based on academic merit), the Christian Leadership Award scholarships (these are awarded to students who belong to the Church of Christ denomination) and Faculty/Staff scholarships (awarded based on merit by the faculty and staff of each academic division). In the Access to Student Services and Opportunities category, I examined metrics of usage of the Student Success Center, participation in the Faculty/Student mentoring program, usage of the Career Center, number of students who made the Dean’s List, number of students marked “at risk” by faculty on a once per semester At Risk Student Survey, and number of students who downloaded the Navigate mobile app. I gathered data from the previous four years (8 semesters) and disaggregated the data into the categories of White, Asian, Hispanic, Black, American Indian, Pacific Islander and International Student.
As expected, the data revealed some good news and some hot spots!
- The data revealed that students participate at equitable rates in undergraduate research programs and in the faculty/student mentor program, both programs that depend to some extent on a prior relationship between a faculty member and a student.
- Participation in international programs is equitable across demographics.
- In hot spots, we discovered that White students participate at higher percentages than students in other demographic categories in both Great Books I and Great Books IV, indicating a need to look at the way in which that program is being advertised and communicated to incoming students.
- White students achieve placement on the Dean’s List at higher percentages than students in other demographic categories.
We will continue to study the data for areas in which our best practices may not be equitably accessible to all students and use that data to examine our internal processes and procedures to address any inequities we discover.
See the fellows' blogs from the capstone projects
Amy Capolupo and others participated in the Spring 2021 EAB’s Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship