Business Innovation Factory Launches Student Experience Lab with Grant from Lumina Foundation for Education

Newest BIF Lab launches with focus on innovation in higher education, effort to understand and improve college attainment levels and college student experience. The Business Innovation Factory (BIF) today launched a new laboratory to enable innovation in higher education. The lab will support the design of solutions that increase college attainment levels, enhance the college student experience and improve the quality and effectiveness of the U.S. higher education system. The launch of the BIF Student Experience Lab is supported by a $280,000 grant from Lumina Foundation for Education. The Student Experience Lab is the second BIF laboratory to come online following the launch of the Elder Experience Lab and its successful Nursing Home of the Future initiative in 2008. BIF’s unique non-profit platform will provide Student Experience Lab partners with a collaborative environment where new ideas for improving the college student experience and increasing higher education attainment can be designed, tested and refined in a real-world laboratory with direct student engagement. “We are honored to have Lumina Foundation as a partner in the BIF Student Experience Lab,” said BIF founder and Chief Catalyst Saul Kaplan. “R&D is the lifeblood for every industry in this country and yet with an investment rate below one percent we have failed to invest in R&D for education. Our partnership with Lumina Foundation will enable BIF to make the realities of the current student experience more visible and create a real-world platform for experimentation where innovators can explore and test new ways to increase higher education attainment and enhance the college student experience.” With the investment from Lumina Foundation, BIF will launch the lab with a nine-month effort to understand the experience of postsecondary education students across a variety of demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds and assess high-impact opportunities where the experience can be improved and to increase degree attainment rates. Lumina Foundation has set an ambitious goal to raise the proportion of the U.S. adult population who earn college degrees from current levels of just under 40 percent to 60 percent by the year 2025. “We must make the development of human capital a cornerstone of U.S. economic policy,” says Jamie P. Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “With this partnership, we can pursue an actionable, real-world laboratory where research and experimentation can lead to new solutions that improve postsecondary education and significantly increase degree attainment.” In this first phase of work, the Student Experience Lab team will create an "Experience Map" of the environmental and human factors that are the most significant drivers of the post secondary student experience. The team will use a combination of observational and ethnographic research, self-reporting, surveying and secondary research to characterize the experience of current, former and prospective post secondary education students at various ages and from diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds. The BIF team expects to include in its investigations students and learners across multiple demographic cohorts, including students aged 16-18, 19-22, 23-26, and 37-40. To ensure the broadest representation of student experience, our experience mapping work will include students from urban and rural communities, students of diverse race, and individuals from a range of socio-economic backgrounds and situations. The Student Experience Lab will package findings from this phase of work in a highly visual and interactive form that uses video, audio, photography and first-person narrative to tell the story of the postsecondary student experience in a manner that allows experts and non-experts to understand the human, environmental and systems-level factors that most impact degree attainment. “Most conversations about education reform reflect the perspective, needs and agenda of the institutions that provide educational services, rather than the needs of the students they serve. The on-the-ground reality of the student experience is all but lost in this dynamic,” says Kaplan. “The BIF Student Experience Lab will use a compelling, highly accessible view of the student experience to shift the conversation about education reform away from solely what institutions want and need to also include what students want and need.” This approach enables stakeholders to see the experience through the lens of the student, better appreciate the dynamics of the whole system and more readily identify opportunities for innovation and intervention. The launch of the Student Experience Lab comes at a time when national enthusiasm for deep educational transformation is at an all time high. In addition to building strong political will to drive change, BIF believes that experimentation is critical to developing an effective set of new solutions that can be scaled and implemented across the U.S.  BIF will leverage its partnership with Lumina both to advance Lumina’s goals to improve postsecondary degree attainment and to create the experimental and methodological framework to conduct ongoing research and experimentation. “A comprehensive map of the current student experience and a catalogue of high impact opportunities for intervention will help identify specific elements of the experience where investment is likely to yield the greatest return. This work creates a roadmap to help guide innovation and investment activities,” concludes Lumina’s Merisotis. Work in the lab will start May 18. Initial activities will include the recruitment of student participants and initiation of ethnographic and secondary research activities. Outputs from the lab will be available to the public through the Student Experience Lab’s web portal, which will launch in early summer. Key findings from the lab also will be presented at the Business Innovation Factory’s BIF-5 Collaborative Innovation Summit on October 7-8, the fifth annual gathering of BIF’s national network of innovators and thought leaders from across industries and sectors. About Lumina Foundation Lumina Foundation for Education, an Indianapolis-based, private, independent foundation, strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access to and success in education beyond high school. Through grants for research, innovation, communication, and evaluation, as well as policy education and leadership development, Lumina Foundation addresses issues that affect access and educational attainment among all students, particularly underserved student groups, including adult learners. The Foundation bases its mission on the belief that postsecondary education remains one of the most beneficial investments that individuals can make in themselves and that society can make in its people. http://www.luminafoundation.org

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