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Amherst College

Mixed Methods Assessment with Amherst College’s Loeb Center: Establishing Data-Informed Transformation Based on an Understanding of Supports and Services that are Already in Place

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The Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning at Amherst College provides resources and advising to help undergraduate students design their learning pathway through internships, networking, jobs, alumni connections and reflection on how academic experiences, interests, skills, and values can align in a meaningful career.

Amherst, MA  |  careers.amherst.edu

PROJECT 1: Coordinated Services for First Generation and Low Income Students

Task: Identify strategies, strengths and gaps to improve coordination of services and support for first generation and low income (FLI) students across Amherst College academic and student life divisions.

Solution: Conduct a comprehensive assessment of current characteristics, strengths and gaps in FLI services and support.

Process: Conduct focus groups with FLI students about their experiences, awareness and access to academic and student life resources, staff and faculty; conduct interviews with faculty and staff about available FLI services, supports, and resources across academic and student life divisions.

Outcome: Provision of a data-informed assessment of campus wide FLI offerings that highlights available resources, strengths, coordination and gaps in those offerings, and recommended strategies to guide future improved coordination.

Impact: Key stakeholders at Amherst College have an improved, data-informed perspective to guide equitable decisions about how to prioritize financial and staff resources to better meet emerging needs among FLI students. Increased understanding can be a crucial building block for strategic discussions about how to reconfigure roles and responsibilities, centralize information and services, and improve equity relative to student access to opportunities and resources.

PROJECT 2: Measuring Equitable Support for Career Exploration and Planning

Task: Identify evaluation metrics to be used by the Loeb Center to track its activities and related student outcomes in a data dashboard with focus on emerging measures of equitable access.

Solution: Develop a comprehensive assessment of Loeb staff activities and the metrics used (and not used) to measure impact of the Center among students.

Process: Conduct interviews with key Loeb staff regarding the process and metrics they use to track their activities, understand their impact, and communicate with internal and external stakeholders about the nature and outcomes of their work.

Outcome: Share assessment findings with lead staff to guide development of processes and systems for data collection and sharing at the Loeb Center.

Impact: Loeb Center lead staff have a base of information to guide on-going design of a data dashboard, refine current strategies and metrics for ongoing data tracking, define regular cycles of data-informed reporting and discussion among staff, identify and address gaps in metrics used, and consider the benefits of shifting from the current emphasis on process measures towards a more robust data-driven, impact-centered approach to equitable service and support.

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