Data Design for Improving Student Retention Programs

June 3-5, 2019 | Denver, CO

Leave the workshop with your data-informed strategy in hand.

Join our expert facilitators to learn how you can take your student success or retention program to the next level by enriching your data and integrating assessment into your departmental culture. Working with expert coaches, you will leave with a revised or drafted data strategy and clear next steps to implement your plan within your department.


In Person Conference


A highly effective program data strategy has 6 key elements:

  • Data collection that fosters an organizational culture of assessment

  • Clear goals that are connected to the larger institution's priorities

  • Specific, measurable learning outcomes to achieve set goals and practices

  • A plan and strategies for measuring these outcomes by accessing key data and/or developing data collection tools

  • An action plan and evolving strategies for communicating successes linked to broader institutional priorities

  • A process for making improvements and/or changes based on the data

In this workshop, you will learn about and develop a data design that takes into consideration each of these 6 key elements. Throughout the conference, you will have time to draft your plan with the support of our expert facilitators. You will leave this conference with a data-rich strategy that you can integrate into your organizational culture to better support student success within career services, academic advising, student affairs and academic support programs.

Who Should Attend?

This event is designed for senior officers, directors and coordinators overseeing student affairs, academic advising and student success programs, such as:

  • Deans and Directors of Student Retention, Student Success and Student Support Services

  • Vice Presidents and Deans of Student Affairs

  • Vice President, Deans, and Directors of Academic Advising

  • Directors of Career Services

  • Deans of Undergraduate Education

  • Directors of TRIO

Workshop Learning Outcome

After participating in this workshop, you will be able to articulate your thinking and demonstrate this vision through your proposed assessment plan.

Bring Your Team and Save

When you register three or more colleagues, save 10% on registration


Early Bird Registration (By April 2nd): $1195

Registration (After April 2nd): $1395.


Denver Tech Center, Denver, CO

Our Denver Tech Center hotel is in walking distance of wonderful restaurants, parks, spas and the light rail to nearby downtown. Downtown Denver is a popular destination for its restaurants, nightlife and cultural events.

Recommended Hotel

Hyatt Place Denver Tech Center
8300 E. Crescent Pkwy
Denver, CO 80111

Rooms are limited and subject to availability.

Conference Agenda

Day 1: Monday, June 3


12:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Laying the Groundwork for Your Data Strategy

1:00 p.m. -2:00 p.m.

Good assessment practices work backwards as do we in this session. We begin with sample presentations of past assessment results and recommendations. We will use this activity to observe and discuss what you hope to gain from an assessment plan as well as how program assessment fits into the bigger institutional picture and your organizational culture. What is assessment that works for you? What have you found to be most useful in your work?  We will also define the key vocabulary and steps in the assessment loop as well as discuss different types of assessment.

Clarifying Program Goals

2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

In this session, we will look at what it means to integrate assessment into your organization. How do you identify key program goals and priorities? How do these align with institutional priorities?  You will then revise or draft your proposed program goals based on our conversations.  


3:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Developing Organizational Capacity for Assessment

3:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

The quality and sustainability of our work is grounded in a commitment to continuous improvement framed by assessment.  In this session, you will identify your organizational strengths and challenges for integrating on going assessment into your daily work and strategic planning.

Day 2: Tuesday, June 4

Breakfast Buffet

8:30 a.m - 9:00 a.m.

Developing Learning Outcomes

9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

Whether you have learning outcomes or will be working through your first draft of them, this session will provide the expert coaching you need to revise or draft goals that are specific, measurable, realistic and reflective of your program's goals with alignment to institutional priorities.

Reviewing Current Program Practices

10:00-10:45 a.m.

If you don’t know where you are going you cannot get there from here. During this activity, you will look at your current program practices and consider how these are being used to achieve your organizational goals.  To what extent do you know that your practices are achieving your goals?  What evidence do you have? 


10:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Data Collection: What Do You Need to Know and What Data Are Available in National Data Sets?

11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

We will then brainstorm types of data that will help assess your program's specific practices. What are the types of national and institutional data available to you? How do you weigh their relevance and gain access to these?  We then move into an activity working with a national database you can use to access institutional data to use in your assessment plan and in benchmarking.


12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Data Collection: What Can Be Developed?

1:00 p.m. -2:00 p.m.

Though institutional data serves as a helpful measurement in most assessment plans, you will also need to consider developing data collection methods specific to your program and organization. Such approaches provide immediate and reflective feedback to all members of the organization.  We will discuss what kinds of tools to answer the questions posed by the assessment process.  We will examine the fit between the assessment questions and the data collection plan for both qualitative and quantitative methods.  We will emphasize the importance of making the approaches simple and continuous.   

Data Collection Plan Drafting

2:00 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.

The last part of the day we devote to drafting the data collection section of our assessment plans. With the help of the expert coaches, you will have the chance to develop your plan for collecting data while keeping in mind what is necessary and manageable.


2:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Data Collection Plan Drafting Continued

3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Continue developing your plan for collecting data.

Day 3: Wednesday, June 5

Breakfast Buffet

8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Communicating Your Findings

9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

Communicating your successes is at least as critical as measuring them! So often those charged with program assessment find that the program results they worked so hard to measure are not truly seen or understood by those who decide program funding, staffing, and other decisions that affect your program, even survival. We will discuss the importance of developing the story as well as presenting your findings. We will explore how to make your assessment results stand out and be effective in reaching your intended audiences and meeting your objectives through targeted strategies and mediums.


10:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.

Drafting Your Communication Strategy

10:15 a.m.-11:15 p.m.

In this session, you will briefly draft how you intend to communicate your results tailored by audiences. Then you will create a sample presentation document that incorporates the types of visuals you will use at the end of your assessment loop. This will give you a drafted presentation document that you can adapt to share with various audiences using appropriately selected data.  Our coaches will help you determine effective visuals for the type of assessment data you are working with and how to highlight data that makes the most impact.

Program Improvement and Change

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

This final conversation takes us back to where we began. We consider again the goals of assessment for students, staff, faculty, programs, institutions, accrediting bodies and other key stakeholders. We will summarize how our assessment practices should influence our organizations.  We will finish the workshop with a discussion focused on the need of your assessment processes to be fluid and well integrated into your organization.


Kuk Image.jpg

Linda Kuk, Emerita Associate Professor and Vice President of Student Affairs, Colorado State University

Previously, Linda was the Chair of the Higher Education Leadership Program at Colorado State University. She has held numerous positions in higher education including the Vice President of Student Affairs at Colorado State University, Rochester Institute of Technology and State University of New York College at Cortland; Dean of Students at Marquette University; and Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs at Iowa State University.

Highly respected for her focus on students, she received the 2014 NASPA Outstanding Contribution to Higher Education Award, recognizing work in programs, policies or research that have made a national impact and contributed to the broad research of higher education. She has contributed more than 40 publications to student affairs literature, including a recent book Positioning Student Affairs for Sustainable Change, in which she addresses the organizational and structural challenges currently facing institutions

Cynthia Smith Forrest, Ed. D, Higher Education Consultant

Cynthia Image.png

Cynthia most recently served Boston-based Wheelock College as the Vice President for Student Life on the senior management team guiding the merger process with Boston University.  She has a distinguished record of professional achievement having served for 21 years at Framingham State University both as the Dean of Students and as the Senior Student Affairs Officer for Student Services. In addition, she served as the Vice President for Student Affairs for six years at the University of New England.  Cynthia earned her Doctorate and Master’s degrees in Administration, Management and Social Policy from Harvard University. She also holds a Master’s degree in Counselor Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of South Carolina. 

Cynthia served for 10 years on the American Council on Education Office Inclusive Excellence National Network Board as well as in a number of other regional and national positions throughout her career, including ten New England Association accreditation teams. She was named the 2005 National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) ‘Pillar of the Profession.’  She is a sought after consultant to work with colleges and universities nationally in situations such as campus change and strategic planning.  She also focuses on enhancing the relationship between academic affairs and student life to ensure student success.