With Anthology Beacon’s categories, you can thank yourself later for setting up your system in a way that documents what happened throughout the year for analysis into the student experience to improve student outcomes and retention. Review and audit these categories periodically to understand what is working well and what can be shifted to better capture what you need. Below are some suggestions on why and how to start!

Why Audit Categories?

  1. Ensure relevance: As the student population and their needs evolve over time, it's important to ensure that the categories used to flag students are still relevant and reflective of the current situation. For example, are there categories that haven’t been used all year? In the same way that adding categories may be helpful, the same can be said for removing ones that are no longer relevant.
  2. Avoid bias: Categories that are too broad or vague can lead to bias and inaccuracies in the system's identification of at-risk students. For example, if student Alerts are categorized as "poor academic performance" without specifying the type of performance or considering the students' individual circumstances, it may lead to incorrect or unfair assumptions about their academic progress.
  3. Improve adoption: In an earlier example, we discussed how a single category isn’t being used; however, what if categories as a whole are not being leveraged? If categories are intuitive and clear, faculty and staff may be more likely to use them. This increase in category usage can lead to better data and analysis and improved interventions with appropriate resources and support to students in need.

Tips for Auditing Categories

  1. Review data: Institutions should review data on the number of students flagged under each category and analyze whether there are any patterns or trends that need to be addressed. Some common category themes we see campuses include: Academic Performance (Missing Work, Poor Performance, Academic Achievement), Attendance (Absences, Has Never Attended, Tardiness), Advising/Help (Academic Coaching, Case Notes, Goal Setting), Personal (Family, Child Care, Well-Being, Veterans), Financial (Financial Aid, Billing, Financial Challenges), and Career (Career Exploration, Employment, Internships)
  2. Gather feedback: Institutions can also gather feedback from students, faculty, and staff on the effectiveness of the categories and whether they accurately reflect the needs and concerns of the student population. This can help identify gaps and areas for improvement. Are there areas of campus that are not currently using Beacon that could benefit from it?
  3. Continuously evaluate: Auditing categories should be an ongoing process, with regular evaluations and updates to ensure that the system remains effective and relevant over time. 
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