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Defining Student Success: Degree Velocity® as a Leading Metric

by Lisa Hunter, Ph.D.

Inside Ad Astra’s Managing the Academic Enterprise course, we ask academic leaders to reflect on their institution’s definition of student success, how it is measured, communicated, and shared across campus stakeholders. The first week of the course is grounded in this activity because an institution’s definition of student success is central to its mission. This activity and the resulting conversation among participants are often one of the most important takeaways reported by participants.

As you might imagine, how institutions define student success is driven by how student success is measured. Many institutions measure student success using primarily lagging indicators, such as retention and graduation rates. While helpful for determining whether a goal has been met, the lagging indicators do not necessarily allow for analysis and implementation of specific interventions with a current cohort of students. Because lagging metrics are required for IPEDS and other institutional reporting needs, they are convenient, widely adopted, and easily understood by institutional stakeholders.

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