With this post, we’re introducing a new blog feature, Sound Off – HEI Quick Takes, in which our team members share their thoughts and perspectives on topical questions. We invite you to respond as well–please feel free to CONTACT US or reply via comment on LinkedIn.
What is a trend in student success you’re most excited about or interested in for 2023? Why?
Patricia Steele, PhD, Founder & Principal:
I’m excited to see a stronger focus on outcomes in higher education. The costs are high and students want to get real marketplace value from their degrees. This means they must emerge from their education experience with both knowledge and skills that have value in their work. I believe we will see more integration of ‘earning’ and ‘learning’ in college.
Donté McGuire, Director of Research & Evaluation:
I’m [also] excited about increasing and improving learn and earn models that will hopefully provide more flexible and accessible pathways to education and well-paying jobs for more people (i.e., beyond traditional 2 and 4-year degrees).
Alisa Cunningham, Director of Research & Evaluation:
I’m wondering if the post-pandemic period will continue the adjustments/flexibility for adult learners and other student populations to support student success.
Kathleen Jarman, Research Associate II:
This isn’t really a “hope” because I’m not sure the trends indicate this, more of an observation based on what Alisa and Donté said: I think that the pandemic made students who are “traditional” college students in age seek the flexibility that has been typically marketed almost exclusively towards adult learners. Economic conditions have also prompted “traditionally aged” students to seek flexible learn and earn models. I’m curious to see if more institutions start to recognize this shift and market programs that had typically been marketed to adult learners to high school students planning for their transitions
Overall, I think it will be interesting to see which accommodations/innovations/learnings from the COVID era continue and which are phased out. It does feel like as we approach the third anniversary of initial lockdowns, some things are being phased out while others are solidifying/becoming more permanent. I’m curious if there are any trends in what practices stick and which ones fade.
[And this is] not explicitly about student success, but I’m also looking forward to the increased Pell eligibility for incarcerated folks! Big step for increasing access.
Tashera Gale, PhD, Director of Research & Evaluation:
I am enthusiastic about the growing trend toward increased inclusion of students in operationalizing what student success means, the many forms it could take, the numerous vehicles with the potential of supporting trajectories toward its attainment, and what its realization might look like. I’m excited to have observed a growth in how funders, institutional leaders, and educational practitioners are centering students in ways that demonstrate an appreciation of their lived experiences, convey that students hold expertise that is valued, and communicates the importance of listening to and integrating student voices. Within this newfound paradigm, I’m thrilled that there is increased intention to conceptualize student success from a lens of equity—racial, gender, socioeconomic, and their intersections. Also of delight, stakeholders are seemingly adopting a learning orientation, where they are curiously exploring how these new developments might be applied to catalyze forward movement toward equitable realization of student success. I fully recognize that these are merely small—albeit foundational—strides along the arduous journey that lies ahead. MUCH is required to reach the transformations desired. Still, I remain cautiously optimistic about what the future might hold for postsecondary student success, and beyond.
John Archacki, Research Associate II:
[I’m interested in seeing] lessons learned about virtual and distance learning from the pandemic, attention toward student loan forgiveness and assistance, and strengthening salary transparency and disclosure laws.