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Student Development
Student Engagement
Data and Insights

Inside University of Maryland’s iSmith Initiative

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Solutions Used

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The Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland was starting to recognize how important a competency-based education was for their students. They partnered with Suitable to launch their student development program called iSmith. With Suitable’s mobile app, students are more engaged than ever before and staff can easily watch their students progress.

About the School

In 2016, the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business started to map out a competency-based student development program called the iSmith initiative.  

Challenge before Suitable

Both faculty and staff of the Smith School of Business understood that competencies were a crucial part of their students’ education but had no way to implement them into the student experience. In 2016, they established a program called iSmith. College leadership devoted a significant amount of time researching to figure out what competencies to incorporate and what would work best for the students and employers. After multiple unsuccessful attempts with other software, the college needed to rethink the technology they were using and offering students. The Smith School needed a platform that could not only increase student engagement but also scaffold the student experience. That is why they knew Suitable would be a perfect fit.

Life with Suitable

The Smith School partnered with Suitable and launched the new and improved iSmith experience in the Fall of 2019. As a strategic partner, Suitable offered best practices and insights to help the Smith School identify the 8 core competencies that would serve as the foundation of their student experience. Suitable never takes a cookie cutter approach and always helps each school customize the system so that it aligns with their unique mission and vision. 

With Suitable, the Smith School was able to increase student engagement without headaches. The platform’s unique gamification encourages students to participate in experiences, where they earn points and badges the more they accomplish. This gamified approach motivates students to continue through the iSmith program, and the badges provide students with clear milestones to achieve throughout their education. Top performing students are then recognized on Suitable’s leaderboard as a role model that other students can benchmark against. This social proof further influences even more students to participate. By partnering with Suitable, UMD can provide each student with a shareable Co-curricular Transcript (Experiential Learning Record + ePortfolio) to help tell their story. By the time students start applying for full-time jobs, they will now have a more compelling way to articulate their skills and accomplishments. 

The experience for faculty and staff has also transformed with Suitable. Previously, the administrative process relied on paper sign-in sheets and updating spreadsheets. The faculty/staff would later have to spend tiring hours manually tracking the student engagement data. Now, with Suitable, students can easily check into events and record their experiences directly through their smartphones, and faculty can instantly access all information and data that they need for reporting. Faculty and staff are thrilled to see students so excited about engaging in experiential learning and they can begin to see a much needed culture shift happening at UMD due to their partnership with Suitable. 

Outcomes Achieved

The Smith School partnered with Suitable less than a year ago and are already seeing outstanding results. 94% of students have been engaged since launch, with 5,025 experiences recorded. Beyond engagement, students are using the Experiential Learning Records that Suitable provides to tell their story.

Plans for the Future

Next academic year, the Smith School plans to add the next freshman cohort and create a iSmith student taskforce. They would also like to create competency milestones for each year and leverage point-based achievements. Smith School plans to introduce competency assessments pre-semester and post-semester to better measure learning. Lastly, they would like to leverage Suitable to engage alumni so students can better connect with the UMD community.