Student Success Brings Don Hossler to USF

One of the most important goals of the Student Success Council is to increase student retention and persistence. To inform the efforts of the Student Success movement the council brought in one of the nation’s top experts on retention to USF, Professor Don Hossler, Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center and Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Indiana University. Dr. Hossler spent a day and a half with a variety of faculty, staff, and administrators at USF to share what he has learned from a career of research on what it takes to keep students in college and graduating in a reasonable amount of time.


Professor Hossler pointed out that in the past, the focus for retention was on students’ background characteristics. Today, researchers are asking, "What is the role of the institution, its programs, and its policies, in the retention of students?" and "What is the relationship between institutional programs/policies and graduating?" This is exactly the approach to student success that our current Student Success movement is taking through the Student Success Council: Let’s look closely at our policies and services to see what we can do to improve student graduation rates.


Professor Hossler shared a list of factors that increase student persistence. Among these factors were student-faculty interaction, participating in orientation, choosing a major early, and "Intrusive advising," where advisors are proactively reaching out to students. 


The time that Dr. Hossler spent on our campus left us with a richer understanding of the work ahead that is associated with enhancing student success and degree attainment at USF," said Tom Miller, professor in the department of Psychological and Social Foundations. "He gave us advice on how to organize for improving persistence and some insights about possible target populations and strategies for addressing the challenges that our students face. He was very affirming of the Student Success initiatives and was encouraging about the steps we have already taken."


Dr. Hossler also discussed strategies to develop a comprehensive enrollment management plan, another area of expertise. He identified the key elements of any strategic planning process and highlighted the value of more deliberate efforts to USF's student success initiative. Now that we have had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Hossler about the most current views on retention, persistence, and enrollment planning  we will continue to gather and analyze our own USF data and let the data speak to us about the best possible solutions for increasing student success at USF.