Tracking and Assessing Student Engagement

Compass is a personal and professional development program required for all undergraduates in the Wisconsin School of Business (WSB). The program combines a curricular component and required co-curricular experiences that span students' undergraduate experience.

The Compass Program has prescribed requirements such as attending a career fair and meeting with academic and career advisors. However, it also includes a more tailorable component that allows flexibility for students to choose applied learning opportunities that meet both their individual goals and the program's learning outcomes.

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PROBLEM

With co-curricular requirements spanning multiple years, there are limited opportunities for staff to have regular face-to-face interaction with all students. During their first semester of the Compass Program, all students enroll in a required 1-credit personal and professional development course. After that, the rest of the program takes place outside the classroom. Students are expected to make a plan to satisfy each year's requirements, but without the structure of a classroom or instructor, Tanya Cutsforth, Compass Program Coordinator for WSB, acknowledges, "It can be confusing for students to know whether they are satisfying their requirement track and meeting goals."

Prior to finding CampusGroups in 2014, the administrators of the Compass Program struggled to find a platform that met their needs for student tracking and communication. None of the tools available were truly designed for this purpose. Staff ended up using several different modules to assemble individual student profiles in order to review, assess, advise and communicate with the students.

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This was a time-consuming process because of both the number of students and scale of the program.

With a rigorous, evolving multi-year program, new cohorts of students arriving annually, and a diverse range of requirements, clear communication and evaluation tools were a critical need for the program. Compass staff set out to find a system that was customizable to fit their specific needs, intuitive and scalable among a large and diverse group of users, and had effective customer support to back it up.

SOLUTION

The Compass Program engaged CampusGroups to implement a new and efficient system to manage its programs and initiatives. The primary goal was to create an interface that was easy to use for both Compass staff and students at the Wisconsin School of Business.

CampusGroups focused on tracking a precise list of requirements for students, as well as delivering evaluation tools for administrators to better analyze the collective data and accurately measure student engagement overall.

CampusGroups customized the platform by creating cohort-specific requirements, which automatically pull student participation at various optional and mandatory workshops, events and program evaluation opportunities. These features are used extensively by Compass staff to track and generate reports on student engagement in the school.

CampusGroups was very responsive, especially during development and implementation, when our ideas were constantly evolving. They helped make our program meaningful through intuitive design.

“Pragmatically," Tanya Cutsforth shared, "CampusGroups created tracking software that we could use to track curricular/co-curricular requirements. This included ‘smart’ rules that allowed for quick categorization of participation toward our ‘Applied Experience’ requirement, and a student interface that was easy to interpret.” CampusGroups’ focus on Applied Experiences and the ability to tag students in various ways, “helped staff quickly find the appropriate data to make informed decisions and update students' progress toward completing program requirements. On the student-level, CampusGroups added functionality so users could quickly see what they’ve completed and find opportunities to satisfy any remaining requirements.” says Cutsforth.   

CampusGroups collaborated with Compass and the Wisconsin School of Business to develop a platform that provided solutions to centralize Compass Program needs, and also allow for adaptations to be made down the road. According to Cutsforth, CampusGroups "listened extensively, asked a lot of questions and were exceptionally responsive as our needs evolved. They helped address high-priority items in a timely manner and quickly communicated when there was going to be a delay in the timeline."

CampusGroups listened extensively, asked a lot of questions and were exceptionally responsive as our needs evolved.

Cutsforth was excited that CampusGroups was responsive, not only giving the Compass Program what they wanted, but also anticipating what they might need as they  moved through development and into implementation. "CampusGroups guided us to identify questions we hadn't considered (or didn't even know to ask) and then helped us find the right solutions."

CONCLUSION

With a community platform firmly in place, and a customer support system to actively assist students and staff alike, the Compass staff say they spend considerably less time explaining how to navigate the requirements and track students' progress. Cutsforth says she believes, "the energy spent investing in the development of the platform will be recouped because we're thinking now about the features we need to scale the program in the future." The Wisconsin School of Business has recently added the Accenture Leadership Center (ALC) Leadership Certificate to CampusGroups, creating a streamlined-space for students to learn about leadership programming in WSB and track their progress toward the ALC Leadership Certificate.

Cutsforth points out that the collaboration with CampusGroups has worked out so well in promoting student engagement, assessment and learning outcomes in WSB, that she would be happy to endorse the use of CampusGroups throughout the University of Wisconsin. Cutsforth says other departments on campus are taking notice of what is happening with Compass and are "very impressed and curious about what we're doing."