Northern Arizona University: Their work in student support and IPASS initiative

In episode 1 of our e-Literate TV case study on Northern Arizona University, we gave a broad overview of the suite of initiatives (primarily) targeted at helping first-year students amidst the tensions coming from growing enrollments.[1] In this episode we look outside of the classroom to see how they’re approach advising and student support.

As we mentioned yesterday, NAU has a rapidly growing enrollment and has a large percentage of students (more than 40% of incoming freshman) that are first-generation. These students do not have a long-history of academic success, and they typically do not have a family support system in place to help them understand what to expect in college and how to succeed. First-generation students tend to come from lower-income families and have a greater tendency to work 20+ hours per week on top of their college studies. We even documented last year how first-generation students tend to spend more on textbooks. Simply put, for schools attracting high percentages of first-generation students, there is an even greater need to provide support and advising structures in place to help them acclimate to college life and studying requirements. And even guidance on how to manage their degree and career plans.

This is the context to understand the challenges NAU faces as they have changed their approach to advising and student support.

(Video source:

The EDUCAUSE site provides a nice summary of the Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success initiative (IPASS, formerly called IPAS) in this 7 Things article. Some highlights that resonate from the case study at NAU – even for the Nursing example that is technically outside the IPASS initiative – include:

  • IPASS is “an institutional capability to create shared ownership for educational progress by providing students, faculty, and staff with holistic information and services that contribute to the completion of a degree or other credential”;
  • “IPAS programs endeavor to bring structure and clarity to students as they pursue educational goals, helping them see how best to plan and sustain their efforts”; but
  • One big challenge is that IPASS approaches require “accurate data and the effective integration of various technology systems”.

In episode 3 we’ll look at NAU’s use of a modified emporium for first-year math courses.

  1. Disclosure: Our e-Literate TV series of video case studies and explainer videos is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The post Northern Arizona University: Their work in student support and IPASS initiative appeared first on e-Literate.

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