May 06 2019

Universities Use Data Analytics Tools to Support Academic Advising

Higher education institutions can close the achievement gap among their students through data-driven communication and planning.

Higher education advisors are finding new ways to use data analytics to communicate, strategize and execute graduation plans for traditionally underserved students. 

At Georgia State University, modern data collection tools give college counselors crucial academic and financial information, allowing them to make more informed suggestions to help their students succeed. 

With the help of data analytics, graduation rates among African American and Hispanic students have increased from 18 to 55 percent, according to Timothy Renick, senior vice president for student success. 

“As soon as a student makes a wrong turn, the system’s already recalibrating to get him or her back on the right path,” Renick,  told EdTech

MORE FROM EDTECH: Check out how data analytics programs are improving on campuses, and what challenges still remain.

3 Ways Data Analytics Tools Benefit Universities

Colleges leverage a variety of tools to turn data into actionable insights, including software from Splunk, Microsoft and IBM. Paired with data from networks, learning management systems, student information systems and other sources, these tools help leaders address three key areas.

  1. Synchronized Communication: Many departments communicate with students independently, so a student is likely to get emails, texts and messages that are siloed. Synchronized platforms bring these into a single pane of glass so, for instance, an academic adviser can see that a student hasn’t paid a bill or has been disciplined in a residence hall — potential red flags for academic progress.

  2. Degree Planning: Historically, degree planning was simple. Students came to college with a program in mind, but didn’t always know what they could do with the degree. Today, advisers use technology to review students’ performance and guide them toward the best-fitting degrees. “It’s now become a much more relational and developmental process where advisers are helping students, especially the undecided ones, to navigate what kind of career outcomes they want,” says Gates Bryant, a partner at consulting firm Tyton Partners. 

  3. The Intersection of Analytics and Alerts: A typical adviser works with 300-plus-students, says Bryant, so any technology that helps them proactively focus on those at risk will be powerful. The merging of student data, analytics and automated alerts tells advisers instantly if a student is in trouble.

To learn more about how data analytics is helping universities support their struggling students, check out "Georgia State Tackles Racial Disparities with Data-Driven Academic Support."

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