No one needs to convince you that education changes lives. You’re already there, committed to and knowledgeable about improving student success and helping your postsecondary institution to understand how to harness transformation to become more equitable and accessible to all.

So, what is transformation?

This website provides ideas, frameworks, tools, methods, and resources to support you in your equity-focused transformation journey. These are freely available for you to use or adapt to suit your needs. In this context, it is important to state up front what ‘transformation’ means and what components contribute to equitable student success.

Transformation is about each institutions’ commitment to eliminating race, ethnicity, and income as predictors of student success by transforming how the institution operates and serves students.

The formalized definition below has been co-created with higher ed leaders and outlines both the ‘what’ of transformation as well as the ‘how.’ Neither are a prescription but serve as a shared reference to leverage or adapt.

The content available throughout this site is designed to align to the definition and to the framework (below) for ease of use, consistency, and discoverability.


Transformation is the realignment of an institution’s structures, culture, and business model to create a student experience that results in dramatic and equitable increases in outcomes and educational value.*

Institutions transform by integrating evidence-based practices that create inclusive and coherent learning environments and by leveraging a student-centered mission, catalytic leadership, strategic data use, and strategic finance in a robust continuous improvement process.

* For close to two decades, the field of higher ed has gravitated toward the idea of “transformation.” This working definition is based on lessons learned and many years of research and field stakeholder engagement.

Understanding transformation

Transformation is a continuously adaptive process that results in newly designed student experiences, supports, and back-office practices. These are the result of re-prioritization and decision-making that address students’ needs and reflect institutional context.

Transformation, its components, and outcomes are also illustrated by the institutional transformation framework. The framework describes the relationships between the contributing components of transformation and their collective focus on equitable student success. It was designed with and for the postsecondary field.

As an illustrative complement to the definition, the framework centers equitable student success outcomes and the student experience represented by the green pathways ring. Changing student facing practices and implementing supports are represented by the orange solution areas ring. In support of student-facing changes, shifts in ‘back-office’ functions are often necessary. The blue capacities ring supports changing and implementing student facing practices but often does not interact with student experience directly. Strong back-office capacities support prioritization, decision-making about resource allocation, and continuous improvement.

The researched elements of the framework that are required for transformation are summarized here but become more detailed in application.

This video shows how the student experience is at the center of an integrated model where an institution’s solutions and operating capacities work together.

Play Video

Supporting your journey

The definition includes a reference to ‘a robust continuous improvement process.’ Research, observation, and evidence has shown that routine, data-informed reflection influences prioritization of student success initiatives.

Each institution – on its own unique journey – can leverage the resources, tools, or methods available here (or via connected sites) to address prioritized equitable student success initiatives. The information published here has been sourced from and designed with the field of higher education; it is representative but not exhaustive.

As you routinely reflect, prioritize, and implement changes to improve students’ experiences, you will likely adapt approaches to align with students’ needs and your own institutions’ capabilities.

Transformation is an adaptive process. This material and the transformation definition and framework are designed to support your unique journey while holding some things constant: the definition, the contributing components to transformation, and the importance of continuous improvement routines to iterative change over time.

Website objective

Maybe you’re at the start of or facing a crossroad on your transformation journey, and you’re looking for guidance, collaboration, and inspiration. This site meets you where you are and offers a flexible set of frameworks, tools, methods, and resources that build around the shared values of institutions working toward equitable student success.