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The 4 pillars of a proactive student success strategy

How Texas Southern University is building a better support system for students

February 22, 2024, By Joanie Garcia, Strategic Leader, Student Success

Higher education is often reacting: environmental conditions, shifting demographics, and external influences all contribute to its ever-changing landscape. But when it comes to student success, the time it takes to react could be what hinders students from obtaining a degree.

In a recent episode of EAB’s Office Hours podcast, Dr. Raijanel Crockem and Dr. Naomi Lawrence-Lee from Texas Southern University (TSU) talked about their institution’s journey to transform student success after discovering their four-year graduation rate was just 9%. With candid insights and drawing on a wealth of experiences, they shed light on TSU’s strategy to proactively bolster student success.

Listen to the podcast highlighting TSU’s Systematic Approach to Student Success.

Here are four successful initiatives from TSU that you can implement to build a proactive student success strategy on your campus.

1. Start with data

At the heart of their proactive approach to student success was a powerful ally: data. When TSU embarked on a mission to improve graduation rates, many faculty members were unaware that their 4-year graduation rate was just 9%. However, through strategic data sharing and open communication, TSU was able to engage faculty in understanding the challenges students faced. TSU began to uncover the intricate relationship between elements like DFWI grades, available tutoring services, and academic policies on persistence, academic progress, and ultimately graduation. The heightened data transparency played a crucial role in motivating faculty to make changes to their student support strategies.

One initiative at TSU emerged as a direct response to data from EAB’s Navigate360 (referred to as T-CLAW—Tigers, Collaborative Learning, Actively Working—by TSU) showing that students were not completing enough hours in their first semester. On average, students were enrolling in 14 credit hours but only finishing 11, hindering their ability to graduate on time. This insight prompted TSU to implement the 15 to Finish initiative. Originating at the University of Hawaii, 15 to Finish encourages students to enroll in 15 credit hours per semester, graduate on time, and start their careers faster.

Data also played a key role in securing funds for additional programming. Being able to pinpoint that students were falling short provided the evidence the university needed to allocate funding for summer programming that allowed students to take or retake necessary courses and stay on track. By setting this target and providing students with the resources and support to achieve it, TSU addressed the challenge of delayed graduation and promoted a more efficient and successful academic pathway for their students.

“It all began with the data sharing, being able to share that data and being aware of where students were falling short.”
-Dr. Raijanel Crockem

2. Empower advisors and faculty

TSU leaders understood how pivotal advisors and faculty would be in student success efforts and used a multi-faceted approach to secure their buy-in. They started by addressing concerns and building trust through transparent communication, highlighting the potential benefits of the Navigate360 platform. Leaders showcased success stories and shared key performance metrics, such as improved graduation and persistence rates in departments that embraced the technology. Engaging faculty in presentations and discussions allowed them to witness the impact firsthand. Additionally, TSU leaders ensured that faculty had a say in shaping the technology’s implementation and received comprehensive training to feel confident using it. By demonstrating the direct connection between Navigate360 usage and student success, leaders at TSU’s gave advisors and faculty more tools to collaborate effectively, ultimately providing more timely support to students.

“You have to look at processes and people because it’s the people that help become the engine…student success belongs to anybody and everybody.”
-Dr. Naomi Lawrence-Lee

With this data-driven approach, TSU could present tangible evidence of positive shifts. With increased persistence and progression rates, along with a notable surge in enrollment, faculty could witness the direct outcomes of their collective efforts.

4 ways to build faculty buy-in for student success initiatives

3. Use thoughtful communication strategies

Strategic communication is the best way to ensure that students remain informed, connected, and driven on their academic journey. By employing tactics like timely reminders, universities have embraced the practice of “nudging” students, reminding them of critical deadlines, helpful study techniques, and available support resources. By delivering relevant information through various channels including email, social media, and mobile apps, institutions ensure that students are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed.

Download this insight paper to learn more about how nudges bolster student success

Incorporating nudges in course enrollment campaigns has significantly reduced the need for complex email communications at TSU, streamlining the course registration process. TSU has also been able to reach untapped territory, successfully engaging both graduate and professional students, an additional 20% of the student population, who weren’t previously receiving advising campaigns tailored to their needs. By adeptly employing these enrollment campaigns, TSU has unlocked the capacity to adequately support these specific subsets of students.


  • “”

    A big success

    Through the implementation of Navigate360, TSU achieved a significant improvement, with 100% of students being assigned advisors, a remarkable increase from the 40% in 2018.

4. Leverage support tools and services

Navigate360 serves as the comprehensive student success platform at TSU. It leverages data from past student experiences to create predictive models for current student success. It offers access to institutional data, including graduation rates, course performance, and major changes. Additionally, it provides an advising platform with summary data on students and robust reporting capabilities. Navigate360 also includes features for monitoring attendance and course progress. Specific student-facing features enhance the overall student experience by providing tools and resources to empower students.

How TSU leaders present Navigate360, which they refer to as T-CLAW to students, staff, and faculty:

T-CLAW’s Benefits for Students

  • Organized Dates: Students can easily stay informed about important upcoming events and deadlines relevant to their academic journey at TSU.
  • Check It Off: This feature helps students stay organized by allowing them to mark off completed tasks and even add their own to-do items.
  • Explore Your Options: Students can explore different majors, helping them align their academic path with their goals, interests, and hobbies.

T-CLAW’s Benefits for Faculty and Advisors

  • Proactive Outreach: Staff can initiate proactive outreach through appointment and progress campaigns, formally tracking student responses and completions.
  • Powerful Progress Reports: Faculty can generate mid-term course progress reports, aiding in student support and intervention efforts.
  • Group Students by Tags: Staff can categorize and group students using custom tags, enabling more personalized tracking and outreach beyond the Student Information System (SIS).
  • Easy Appointment Scheduling: Students can schedule advising and tutoring appointments, promoting self-service and convenience.
  • Shared Notes: T-CLAW facilitates university-wide shared notes, ensuring critical information is accessible to relevant parties.
  • Alert-Based Collaboration: Users across campus can issue alerts to efficiently address student issues, documenting the entire process. This system is particularly useful for drawing attention to students at risk due to academic, participation, or personal challenges.

Navigate360 serves as a robust tool for students, faculty and staff, fostering an environment of support, organization, and proactive student success initiatives at TSU. Thanks to Navigate360, strategic business process enhancements, and the committed student success leaders at TSU, the institution saw a remarkable 15% increase in enrollment from 2021 to 2022.


Empowering student success through proactive strategies

TSU’s journey serves as a testament to the power of proactive strategies in building a stronger safety net for students and propelling them to and through successful academic journeys. This transformative approach embodies a commitment to student success that is both inspiring and replicable in the ever-evolving landscape of higher education.

Joanie Garcia

Joanie Garcia

Strategic Leader, Student Success

Read Bio

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