How Online Universities Can Measure Student Success Tuesday, March 28, 2017 Susan Aldridge, PhD, president of Drexel University Online authors a piece for online newspaper, The EvoLLLution. The original piece can be viewed here. SummaryTo demonstrate its value on investments, higher education must be able to offer a consistent approach to collecting and measuring data regarding academic quality and student success. To do this, Drexel University Online tracks four key variables: readiness, engagement, persistence and satisfaction. Thanks to a week long virtual “course” that lets potential students test drive the Blackboard learning environment for free before enrolling, Drexel is able to collect data even before the application process, getting insight about previous online learning experience, academic motivation, reasons for choosing the online environment and comfort with the learning platform before, during and after the Test Drive. From there, the tracking must follow students throughout their academic careers, beginning with an assessment of everything from how frequently students engage with class materials and course message boards to how often they interact with their academic advisors and support services. Combined with an analysis of enrollment patterns, this data can help gauge student satisfaction and class quality. Additionally, data collected through pre- and post-graduation student surveys provide more specific feedback while also delivering testimonials and career outcomes. By collecting data throughout the entire life-cycle of a student, it becomes easier to measure academic quality and student success.