By: 
Thomas W. Durso
Honoree: 
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

University of Nebraska-Lincoln students on academic probation not only graduated at lower rates, they were visiting their advisers—the very people who could help them right the ship—less often than their peers did.

The university hit on an innovative way to reverse those trends. Starting two years ago, the university began issuing Academic Recovery Plans for students on academic probation.

Students who don’t meet the plan’s requirements—which include meeting with academic recovery coaches—are prohibited from registering for classes the following year.

“Once they actually meet with an academic advisor and develop the plan, it’s much less threatening to them and they realize it’s an individualized experience,” says Amy Goodburn, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and interim dean of academic services and enrollment management. “We felt we really needed a requirement to promote that conversation.”

The plan each student develops with the advisor is entered into an advising system called MyPLAN, which stands for My Personal Learning and Advising Network. The technology has enabled Academic Affairs to implement the recovery plans and the university’s first-ever registration holds.

Other tools allow Academic Affairs to track student participation in workshops and tutoring, allowing advisers and recovery coaches to easily determine if their students have completed their to-do items. Students can also be sorted into cohorts based on different data points.

“The registrar’s office has been a great advocate in helping support us in using data,” says Goodburn, who adds with a laugh, “As an English professor, I never thought I would care so much about spreadsheets and data as I do now.”

Into the future

  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln plans to expand the program to other student populations—such as those with GPAs from 2.0 to 2.7, whose graduation rates lag.
  • While recovery plans currently begin with an in-person introduction session, the university plans to launch an online module to free up personnel to work with more students.