Insights from Data on Student Academic Journey Reveal Paths to College Success in Central Florida College System 

Published by Leita Hermanson on

(Shared from an article Leita wrote on

ORLANDO, Fla., Friday, July 7 — Academic advisory leaders gained valuable insights during a presentation by Michael Holt, Product Director for the Central Florida Education Ecosystem Database (CFEED), at the Valencia College Transfer Advisory Partnership (TAP) meeting at the Valencia/University of Central Florida (UCF) Downtown Orlando campus on July 7, 2023.

Holt shared CFEED’s new research findings on higher education transfer readiness, college major readiness, and shock events, which can assist advisors in guiding students towards academic paths that align with their strengths. Dr. Wendy Givoglu, Provost of Valencia/UCF DT campus, hosted the meeting for Valencia College educators, administrators, and faculty members.

Holt displayed a live PowerBI dashboard that drew from 15 years of data obtained from students’ academic transcripts. “We have 700+ high-quality metrics on the student experience from the School District of Osceola County (SDOC), Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), Valencia College (Valencia), and the University of Central Florida (UCF),” he explained.

Diana Pienaar, CFEED Director, stated, “CFEED has completed 70 research projects that provide actionable data for creating initiatives and interventions to support student transfer success.”

The data looks at courses taken, and the level, rigor, sequence, and grades achieved. Factors such as course failures, repetitions, and subject performance in honors or AP classes, can predict readiness for higher-level coursework. Advisors can leverage this information to guide students and to address course deficiencies. These insights have helped CFEED refine its vision, which now emphasizes student readiness over defining college success.

By focusing on transition points during the academic journey, the research reveals patterns and themes that emerge at points in early education, middle school, high school, college, and university.  This more comprehensive view of student academic performance can point to future success or problems in transfer readiness, ability to tackle a college major or to handle potential shock events.

“The student transcript is the best predictive measure we have,” explained Holt. “Our model contains six specific metrics that help predict a student’s likelihood of performing well at the college level. Using these data points advisors can guide students into a plan aligned with their successful coursework and help them foresee and prepare for possible academic shock events.”

Holt said the data can predict where a student will experience a shock event, and it’s often in the first semester after transferring. When advisors know about these events earlier in the student journey, they can guide students towards critical and relevant courses that can help them avoid attrition and ensure they complete their major’s prerequisites.

To illustrate how the data can be used in an actionable plan, Holt showed an example for a cohort of 1,140 students in the 2024 class at Valencia where the data predicts 24% of these students will likely experience a shock event. Advisors can use this data to guide these students toward courses aligned with their strengths, thereby reducing the occurrence of academic shock.

The CFEED research insights are especially valuable for Valencia College and the University of Central Florida (UCF). The institutions have an articulation agreement that simplifies the transfer process through Florida’s Direct Connect program. That program ensures Valencia students can obtain direct admission to UCF with the successful completion of coursework (*Consistent with university policy). The CFEED team has translated the agreement and Valencia course catalog into a list of relevant courses for every UCF major, aligning Valencia courses with UCF courses. This roadmap enables advisors to guide students to a successful Valencia journey as they work towards transferring to UCF to complete their major coursework.

Maisha Wilder, Valencia Student Life Coordinator, expressed excitement about the presentation and the potential of CFEED data to guide transfer students towards their academic strengths. She said, “The CFEED data can help us spot problems so we can realign the coursework and give students a greater chance for success.”

Evelyn Lora-Santos, responsible for college advising at Valencia, appreciated the actionable plans derived from the data and aimed to use it to help students confirm their majors and stay on track. She said, “The data is good, especially if it shows the relevant courses versus the common courses. We advise on the prerequisites for the major.”

Dr. Mia Pierre-Wall, a member of the Community Academic Transfer Orientation team, found the information on shock events particularly valuable, given the many factors impacting students during the transfer process. She said, “I appreciate quantitative research. Transfer shock events are significant, with many factors, such as financial issues, affecting students.”

Pierre-Wall’s experience teaching the Valencia academic transfer orientation class revealed that students often face delays in completing their college degree due to misaligned coursework. CFEED research identifies delays as a metric signaling potential shock events, which can lead to failing courses and attrition. The CFEED research provides insights to address these challenges.

For more information, contact Diana Pienaar, CFEED Director, Valencia College, at or visit 


The CFEED partnership includes Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), School District of Osceola County (SDOC), University of Central Florida (UCF), Valencia College and Midtown Consulting Group.  With support from Helios Education Foundation and WestEd, CFEED partners are engaged in a Collaborative Design Phase to grow organizational capacity and develop hypotheses on student readiness, through an innovative project intended to support student success all along the pre-kindergarten to postsecondary continuum. The Central Florida Education Eco System Database (CFEED) brings together four large-scale education institutions under one collaborative initiative, funded by Helios Education Foundation, to share information, identify opportunities to enhance learning, and propel the educational attainment of all Central Florida students.


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