Siyaphumelela Network 2.0 kicks off with the Know your Data Workshop Series

Takalani Rambau

The second phase of the Siyaphumelela (We Succeed) programme was launched in August 2020. Saide continues to act as a backbone organization for a network of 14 universities, working together to share experiences and innovative initiatives for improving student success at scale. One such initiative is a Know Your Data Workshop Series held between August to October 2020.

The Know your Data online workshop series provided an orientation to universities that joined the Network in 2020. In particular, its purpose was to fosters an approach to the understanding and use of the various categories of data that assist universities to better track and support their students. This includes getting to grips with ‘leading and lagging’ student success indicators and the importance of understanding how best to improve student throughput. The workshop also assisted participants to understand the background, goals and achievements of the Siyaphumelela Network.

Hosted and facilitated by Saide, the workshops were co-presented by Charles Sheppard who devised the original student success data indicators in his work at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) and Elizabeth Booi, another expert in the field of data from the University of Western Cape (UWC) who also serves as a Siyphumelela coach (see link to previous article). Jan Lyddon from the Achieving the Dream Network team in the US also assisted in compiling the instruments that were used during the workshops.

The workshop comprised three sessions with the first two sessions focusing on data fundamentals and then progressively leading to a focus on student success data in the third session.

Data Analysis Slide

Figure 1: Slide from Charles Sheppard’s presentation on student success indicators at the workshop on data fundamentals

The three KYD workshop sessions provided participants with an opportunity to interact with each other through breakaway sessions using prepared case studies facilitated by Siyaphumelela Coaches.  In the last session, each institution showcased some of their student success indicators through a presentation of a visual storytelling exercise.

The positive value and benefits of the workshop was attested to by the favourable comments received in the workshop evaluation. The results showed that 93.1% of respondents indicated that after the engagements they had a clearer understanding of data use in student success work.

Participant’s responses

Figure 2 below depicts the distribution of participants’ responses.

The following quotes exemplify how the participants experienced the workshop:

The breakaway meetings and feedback were particularly useful. The logistics behind data privacy became clearer. The workshop put into perspective my institutions plans for the way forward.

The interactions and engagements between colleagues. The background and use cases provided demonstrated where the gaps are in our institution and hope we can address them.

I now have a better understanding of how to apply student data to improve teaching and learning for students.

It was also encouraging to note that 90% of the respondents stated that their institutions were prepared to start the student success journey and had plans underway to disaggregate data for meaningful interventions. Figure 3 depicts the responses from the workshop participants.

  Evaluation responses

Figure3:  Participant’s responses to evaluation question 5.

Following on from the workshops, the challenge for the participants is institutional implementation. Siyaphumelela Network 2.0 participants are expected to take on the role of championing and taking forward the principles and frameworks for knowing your student data.

KYD workshop is not the only service offered by Saide through Siyaphumelela programme, Saide has plan of a variety of services, in the form workshops and webinars focused on interventions to improve student success. These workshops and webinars are facilitated by experts within the Siyaphumelela partner institutions who tap on their existing strengths and experiences developed in the first phase of the Siyaphumelela programme. Some services are facilitated by Saide as well as by institutions that are part of the Achieving the Dream Network, an American network comprising nearly 300 institutions that are committed to establishing a more student-centered higher education culture.