Understanding Transformation


Based on research into the transformation journeys of 13 Frontier Set institutions, a transformational framework* was developed from and for postsecondary institutions seeking to dramatically improve the effectiveness of their equity-focused student success initiatives.

* Please note that you may see other versions of the institutional transformation framework on other sites (e.g., Postsecondary ITA) that show different categorical divisions of the solution areas and operating capacities rings. These variations are due to the differences among diverse sets of institutions in their structures, resources, and other factors. What is always consistent is centering student experience and equitable student success.

Students are at the center of the transformative work.

In this institutional transformation framework, students are at the center, with a core focus and commitment by institutions to equitable student success. In order to drive transformation and achieve these outcomes, institutions benefit from realigning their structures, culture, and business model.

This begins by establishing clear and sequenced student experiences – or pathways – toward valuable credentials.

These credentialing pathways establish routes to success that orient student supports to ensure equitable momentum.

To help students stay on those paths, institutions identify and implement solution areas—student-facing supports.

Examples of these student-facing supports include (but aren’t limited to) co-requisite support in English and Math, adaptive digital courseware, financial aid, academic advising, and career supports.

To implement student-facing supports, institutions strengthen their operating capacities in areas that are less often student-facing.

Examples of these include: leadership, culture, stakeholder engagement and communications, institutional research and data use, information technology, and strategic finance.

A tailored approach​

The context and unique characteristics of the institution matter. You know that. Your community, your students, and your mission influence the choices about what changes you’ll make. They will also influence how to approach making those changes so that they are sustainable.

Each tailored improvement to the student experience starts with a streamlined and/or refined student experience or pathway. Identifying what part of the student experience warrants attention results from data-informed reflection. Without this key integrating factor of the student experience, the change is less likely to be sustainable over time.

When considering changes to students’ experiences or implementing equity-focused interventions, there are often pre-requisite changes to policies, resource allocation, or reporting expectations.

In many cases, the changes to back-office capacities will need to shift in preparation for and to sustain the success of the equity-focused intervention. Planning the pre-requisite work as part of a successful change effort can bolster long term success for students.