HEat Index, Issue 9 – AI Readiness, Who Earns a Degree, and Successful Data Meetings



Don’t worry; we’re not going to discuss the FAFSA fiasco in today’s issue. Instead, I turn my attention to helping your institution assess its readiness for AI, as well as look at how one university drives data-informed decision making on their campus to improve student retention and graduation rates. Finally, I end with a short, personal story as it relates to one of this week’s articles.  

After reading today’s issue, let us know if you think your institution is AI ready in the comments! 


Is Your Institution Ready for AI? 

From Higher Education Generative AI Readiness Assessment | EDUCAUSE Library   

EDUCAUSE, in partnership with Amazon Web Services, has developed an assessment designed to evaluate your institution’s preparedness for strategic AI initiatives.   

Our Thoughts 

Admittedly, this first assessment instrument is a little rudimentary as it is light on instructions and doesn’t provide a scoring rubric or next steps. However, it’s still a very strong beginning for this type of assessment for your campus, offering a structured way to evaluate your institution’s preparedness for incorporating AI strategically. Additionally, it provides a neutral starting point for campus discussions about AI.   

An individual, IT team, or cross-functional team can complete the assessment. With it, you can identify current capabilities, areas for development, and align AI initiatives with broader institutional goals. AI is quickly becoming a defining technology for this decade, so it is important to strategically plan for and manage the risk of the integration of AI technologies into your educational and administrative processes. 


Only 60% of Students Earn a Credential 

From Study: Half of students started but never finished college | Inside Higher Ed   

A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics tracked postsecondary educational outcomes for a cohort of students from 2009 to 2021, discovering that only 60% earned a credential eight years after graduating high school.   

Our Thoughts 

While the statistics in the report are not positive, it’s important for us to understand the critical issues of college completion rates and their associated socioeconomic and racial disparities. Recognizing these challenges provides a broader context for addressing inequalities within the educational system, supporting student success, and implementing policies and practices aimed at increasing completion rates.   

As we approach the demographic cliff, one way some institutions are attempting to address a smaller population of prospective students is to improve their retention and graduation rates. While the report itself lacks student voice to better understand reasons for students leaving higher education, it still provides a framework for discussions about credential attainment of these populations at your institution. If we seek to improve educational outcomes and boost social mobility and workforce development, it is crucial to ensure that all students have equitable opportunities to succeed.  


Data Meetings Key to Successful Decisions 

From Building a culture of evidence through campus data meetings | Inside Higher Ed   

The University of Kentucky discovered that regular, weekly meetings focused on understanding student success data helped drive institutional decisions.    

Our Thoughts 

It seems the University of Kentucky is paving an excellent path forward for technological advancement. I first featured them in Issue 2 for their generative AI guidelines and now they are back in the higher education news celebrating their success in improving data-informed decision making on campus.  

By including everyone who has an interest in using analytics to improve student success, the University of Kentucky presents a model for developing an evidence-based culture that leverages data to inform strategies and interventions. This approach demonstrates the critical role of data in enhancing educational outcomes and provides a blueprint for other institutions aiming to improve student success through data-informed decision-making. 


Who is a “First-Generation” Student? 

From ‘First-Generation Students’ Can Be a Limiting Category, New Report Says | The Chronicle of Higher Education   

A new report from the Common App finds that institutions can’t agree on a definition of a “first-generation” student, arguing that narrow definitions may cause institutions to overlook students who need additional support.   

Our Thoughts 

Having worked at six different institutions that all seemed to have varying definitions of what constituted a “first-generation” student, I understand the importance of determining the criteria used to identify these students. As a first-generation student myself, I can also relate to the unique challenges these students face when they attempt to navigate higher education for the first time. I still remember calling my mother from a payphone in the rain (okay, maybe I just dated myself) to see if she could help me pay for books my first semester because neither of us realized that you needed to purchase those separately and classes started the next day.   

I tell this story to illustrate how important it is to get this definition correct for your specific institution and the populations you serve. And, if your campus does not have a formal definition or perhaps the definition has not been reviewed in some time, I encourage you to think about what steps you could take to improve that situation at your institution. Remember, everyone can and should contribute to student success.

Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor
Senior Solutions Ambassador at Evisions

Allen Taylor is a self-proclaimed higher education and data science nerd. He currently serves as a Senior Solutions Ambassador at Evisions and is based out of Pennsylvania. With over 20 years of higher education experience at numerous public, private, small, and large institutions, Allen has successfully lead institution-wide initiatives in areas such as student success, enrollment management, advising, and technology and has presented at national and regional conferences on his experiences. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology from Western Carolina University, a Master of Science degree in College Student Personnel from The University of Tennessee, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Teaching, Learning, and Technology from Lehigh University. When he’s trying to avoid working on his dissertation, you can find him exploring the outdoors, traveling at home and abroad, or in the kitchen trying to coax an even better loaf of bread from the oven.

Related Posts



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This