Dr. Linda Baer on Leadership and Building Organizational Capacity for Analytics: National Advisory Board Conversation Series

The Civitas Learning National Advisory Board is comprised of researchers, association leaders, and executives whose expertise has influenced higher education policy and practice across the United States and around the world, and has guided our work from day one.

We are thrilled to bring you more of the NAB Conversation Series — an opportunity to learn from these luminaries as we continue our work together.

We continue the series with a conversation Civitas Learning Senior Fellow Dr. Linda Baer, formerly with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Minnesota State College and University System, who says that we have reached a plateau in our ability to help students persist. She describes how we have to make better use of data at the right time in order to respond to students’ unique needs and to change their trajectory. Watch a snippet of this conversation below.

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Dr. Baer calls out two of the most significant gaps in building capacity for analytics that exist across institutions:

  • Mindsets. We need to shift from a focus of enrolling more students to being more accountable for the success of those students, and sharing that responsibility with them.
  • Skillsets. Leaders need to know what’s important in analytics and why, and they need to bust silos to enable more collaborative work with data.

For institutions that want to get started with this work, Dr. Baer has a toolkit that includes:

  • Developing your “student success IQ” and getting people and teams on campus to become more knowledgeable, engaged, and motivated around this work.
  • Ability to explore insights about what influences your students’ success, and to connect the dots across those insights in order to take impactful action.

Baer argues that building organizational capacity for analytics requires leaders with a vision and clear purpose for using data to improve success for all students. But vision is not enough. Leaders must be able to translate this vision into meaningful strategy for teams across campus, enable collaboration and data-driven action, foster ownership and accountability, and encourage ongoing conversations.

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