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HSI Taskforce Report | Measuring Success


UC Davis is not the first organization eager to measure its impact in terms of equity contributions. Many nonprofits and corporate entities are beginning to develop metrics that measure the impact of initiatives attempting to make broad social change. Guidestar and the Social Progress Index are just two examples, and their work—along with higher education scholars such as Robert Teranishi at UCLA or Estela Mara Bensimon (The Equity Scorecard) at USC—are shaping the way we might measure the social impact of our HSI initiative. It is important to note that The Equity Scorecard is a useful assessment tool for “the self-reflective process that is at the foundation of continued change” but follows as a planning tool, after team members have had an opportunity to review a core set of institutional data.

In the simplest terms, we hold to the principle that individuals who are educated have the capacity to live better lives, and by improving themselves, influence their families, their communities and society. While individual units, departments and programs might use a variety of metrics to drill down on the success of their programs, we recommend that these evaluations be grounded in the following important research questions. Following each question is a list of possible methods, metrics and tools to use in this work:

Are we attracting a broad profile of incoming students that reflects communities most in need of access to opportunity and social mobility?
  • Proportion of Rising Scholars, low-income and first-gen enrolled.
  • Proportion of students from those under-resourced regions as identified in the Regional Opportunity Index issued by the UC Davis Center for Regional Change.
Are our students healthy, with adequate access to health care and mental health care? Are our students food- and housing-secure?
  • National College Health Assessment data (NCHAACHA).
  • On food security: UC Global Food Initiative and local campus surveys regarding food security.
  • On affordable housing: A 30% ratio between half the rental cost of a Davis market-rate two-bedroom apartment and a Teaching Assistant (TA) salary at 50% FTE; a 4-5% rental housing vacancy rate in the City of Davis; a 0% or minimal gap between the Davis housing market average annual rent increase and the average annual inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index; less overcrowding in rental units as measured by a yearly student housing survey; evidence that rental rates and conditions for low income students are improving.
  • On mental and physical health services: utilization and availability of Student Health and Counseling Services; hiring and staff development to promote culturally relevant and sensitive counseling and therapy practices.
Are our students persisting in and completing their educational programs at normative rates?
  • Retention within major, institution and higher education, particularly first year retention.
  • Graduation and completion: (a) Low Income Graduation/completion rate compared to all other students (b) First Gen Graduation/completion rate compared to all other students, (c ) Chicanx/Latinx compared to all other students.
Are our students learning what they need to succeed in their chosen careers and at our institution?
  • Academic units are engaged in a reiterative, rigorous and thoughtful process for the adoption of learning outcomes and the means of assessment in response to changing student needs and best practices.
  • Existence of inter-departmental collaborations that ensure academic coherence and coordination in related programs of study or courses (e.g., gateway courses).
How much opportunity and resources does the institution make available for faculty development of excellence in teaching skills?
  • Number of faculty and staff engaging in professional development in relevant areas.
  • Recognition of teaching excellence in the tenure and promotion process.
Are students able to access equitably all opportunities the campus has to offer, and does that engagement come through positive and inclusive campus experiences that promote a sense of belonging and inclusion?
  • Student participation in internships, leadership roles, organizations and other sense of belonging measures, with nuance across intersectional identities (specific ethnicities within Chicanx/Latinx, income level, first gen, school of origin, major).
  • Qualitative (UCUES, Campus Climate Report) measurements of student engagement and inclusion, levels of respect, experiences with exclusionary (e.g. shunned, ignored), intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct (bullied, harassing).
Is UC Davis a campus that is preparing all students to thrive in a pluralistic society?
  • Representation of faculty and staff at all levels at UC Davis that reflects the rich diversity of California, including Chicanx/Latinx communities.
  • Majors provide culturally responsive and relevant curricula that reflect the history and experiences of Rising Scholars, or respond to their needs and aspirations.
  • Faculty are employing methods of assessment that recognize multiple contributions and distinct learning approaches of all students, especially those that employ proven practices to promote the success of Rising Scholars.
  • Strength of ethnic studies programs at UC Davis, including Chicano and Chicana Studies (e.g., resources, faculty retention and research support).
  • Results of climate surveys that take into account how race and ethnic difference influence how students, faculty and staff experience UC Davis.
  • An operationalization approach to the Principles of Community that recognizes the consequences of hate speech and adequately supports and trains faculty, students and staff experiencing racial and other forms of bias, discrimination and harassment.
  • Assessment and implementation of plan to develop strategic actions to deal with campus climate issues.
How are we fulfilling our mission as a public, land grant institution?
  • Ability of Rising Scholars to build wealth and financial well-being upon graduation or completion; e.g., debt-to-earning ratios 2- and 5- years after graduation under 10%.
  • Increases in graduating students in industries where there are critical workforce shortages (need to clearly identify and have method for revisiting and revising list).
  • Increases of Rising Scholars going into graduate school.
  • Number of students and alumni working in underserved communities.
  • Production of public scholarship and public service by faculty, staff and students and institutional recognition.

Continuous Improvement Model

We offer several models of assessing the initiative as a whole, each employing a continuous improvement model that is consecutively innovating, evaluating, iterating and documenting the work. An advisory group—perhaps including a separate or integrated student advisory group—has been proposed to maintain and update the vision for the HSI initiative. Another proposal is to do an assessment in 2-5 years, using a UC-based assessment team, formed from administrators and faculty from other University of California campuses, who would visit the campus to determine whether any progress has been made toward our goal of becoming a premier R1 land grant institution and make recommendations on next steps. A central coordinating group might also work with various units across campus to continue to understand what projects are moving UC Davis toward its HSI vision and how those projects can be coordinated, evaluated and documented.