Western Texas College: Specific Metrics Targeted at Student Success
With a main campus and a downtown location focused on workforce development and community service, Western Texas is committed to helping students reach their potential. WTC serves 2,300 students across ten counties and was listed as the fastest growing community college in the state by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
WTC began using ZogoTech so that end users would be able to access and use data without needing to go through Institutional Research. “We wanted to move this out of my area and into the hands of the people who really need data to make decisions,” says Britt Canada, Director of Institutional Research.
ZogoTech has made it possible for WTC to do just that, and in a faster and more efficient manner than they ever thought possible. Prior to working with ZogoTech, WTC relied on POISE to pull reports of this nature. “POISE is our transactional database, or dynamic database and student information system,” Canada explains. “If I want to do a study of the dual credit students, as long as I stay in that semester, everything works great. But at the end of the semester, if they change their status, I can’t pull their data anymore because they are no longer flagged as dual credit.” This kind of discrepancy made it difficult to verify the quality of the data and made reporting exceedingly time-consuming.
Now, numerous departments are accessing data on the metrics that matter to them. “Student Services is now able to view records and transcripts, share contact notes and keep track of student progress,” says Canada. “We’re adding alerts for the Athletic Department, so that student profiles will show their involvement in an athletic program. We’re also adding alerts for the 5th, 10th, and end of semester grade so that the Athletic Department or any department can see if students are eligible.”
WTC also uses ZogoTech to quickly retrieve accurate data and track progress over time. “Because ZogoTech captures snapshots of data, I can easily do longitudinal studies. I can also pull up a chart and drag and drop the specific metrics I want to see in that chart; it gives me flexible ways of viewing the data that aren’t available in POISE,” says Canada. “It allows me to visualize, for example, the difference between male and female graduation rates, or other variables like ethnicity. I can get detailed information on each student and programs, and drill down further to understand what’s happened across terms.”
This ability has had significant implications for users such as Mary Higdon, Project Director for the College’s Title V Co-op Grant. “I use ZogoTech to gather data for reporting my grant objectives to the Department of Education at the end of each fiscal year. We have an objective that by September 30, 2012, Hispanic students graduating within 3.5 years of initial enrollment will increase from 15% to 18%. With ZogoTech, I will easily be able to see how we are progressing towards that objective.”
In addition to helping track specific goals, ZogoTech also enables Higdon to measure baseline figures when creating a plan of action for spending line item savings from the grant. “We saved money last year because of personnel vacancies, so I used the savings to purchase iPads for our distance education instructors. Since this wasn’t in the original grant, I used ZogoTech to obtain baseline benchmark measures that we can use to evaluate improvements after using the iPads for the year.”
Tracking that kind of success enables each department at WTC to not only set objectives, but also meet and even exceed them. Whether in Student Services, Athletics, or Grant Management, the ability to access relevant information without always going through IR has made the entire campus more data driven. “The more data everyone has to make decisions in their area, the better we’ll be at effectively serving students and the community,” explains Canada.