A unique approach to tracking program-level and graduation data developed by staff in Western Carolina University’s Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness was recently featured in the monthly newsletter of the national Association for Institutional Research.
In fall of 2012, two OIPE staffers, David Onder, director of assessment, and Alison Joseph, business and technology applications analyst, began developing the strategy in response to a request from the Office of the Provost.
While long-term tracking of retention and graduation of the cohort of first-time, full-time freshmen each fall is valuable, the method, which is widely used, does not account for many students at WCU, including transfer, part-time and graduate students. The concept and resulting report Onder and Joseph developed to address the issue offers a new way to view retention and graduation at the program level, and to compare programs in the institution. The approach attracted significant interest at regional conferences for institutional research.