We’re excited to announce the first publication in a new case study series from the American Talent Initiative’s Academic Equity Community of Practice, highlighting the ways in which colleges and universities have leveraged data and evidence-based research to enhance equity-related projects on their respective campuses.

In Fall 2020, 37 members of the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an alliance of high-graduation-rate colleges and universities committed to expanding access and opportunity for students from lower-income households, joined together to form ATI’s newest community of practice (CoP) focused on equity in the academic experience. Throughout the academic year, members have come together virtually to discuss shared areas of focus and best practices for creating more equitable academic communities during a period of significant disruption and deepening inequities. 

One such area of focus has been the ways in which institutions can utilize data – both qualitative and quantitative – in institutional decision-making and advance community-wide goals related to increasing equity in the academic experience. In January, members gathered for a virtual panel session on this topic. The first two case studies in this series, previewed below, build off of presentations given during this event.

Published today, the first case study, Using Data to Fuel Inclusive Excellence at Virginia Tech, spotlights Virginia Tech’s efforts to improve success among minoritized and marginalized student groups in STEM fields. Funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence Initiative (HHMI IE), Virginia Tech has embarked on a multi-year, cohort-based initiative to empower individual STEM departments as units of change in advancing inclusive excellence and academic equity in their respective fields. In this case study, Dr. Jill Sible, Program Director for the HHMI IE grant and Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and her team illustrate the centrality of equity-minded data aggregation and analysis in fueling inclusive excellence at Virginia Tech in several, key ways: 1) using student success data to facilitate learning and buy-in amongst participating faculty; 2) engaging in a collaborative and iterative process with faculty to identify high-impact areas for intervention through data analyses, and; 3) incorporating and empowering student and faculty voices through robust qualitative data collection and evaluation.     

Soon to be published, the second case study, “Using Equity Data to Guide the Design and Implementation of the New General Education Curriculum at Ohio State,” highlights how the Ohio State community employed data to reimagine core undergraduate coursework with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. In this case study, Dr. Meg Daly, Professor at Ohio State, provides a step-by-step outline of how she and her colleagues approached this process, focusing specifically on the role data has played in designing a core curriculum that is both more equitably delivered to students across Ohio State’s campuses, and that has equity and cultural competency embedded as core learning outcomes. 

In the coming months, we hope to add to this series with more case studies from CoP members and partner institutions. We also look forward to engaging on this topic with a diverse set of institutions at the upcoming virtual Summer Institute on Equity in the Academic Experience on June 21-23, jointly hosted by Georgetown University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Xavier University of Louisiana, in collaboration with ATI.


For more information on ATI’s Academic Equity Community of Practice, please visit our resource page here.