Universities today are optimizing their data analytics programs using real-time dashboards that gather and update student profiles using multiple data points, from financial information to academic performance, so that advisers and faculty can provide better support. At Dartmouth College, for instance, IT teams use real-time data collection tools to inform instructional design. Through real-time analytics applications, teams can study metrics including attrition rates, course enrollment sizes and student performance to redesign courses based on students’ needs.
Crossing the Finish Line: Heading Student Attrition Off at the Pass
You might not traditionally think of IT as playing a role in academic pursuits, but, then again, IT in higher education can no longer afford to be traditional.
As students face heavy workloads and are saddled with ever-increasing financial debt, attrition rates have grown, coinciding with a decline in graduation rates. Informed by better data gleaned working side by side with IT pros, however, faculty members can identify red flags that could indicate a student risks failing a class or dropping out of school entirely. Consider Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania, which in 2012 launched a program enabling faculty to monitor students’ progress and be alerted to behaviors that showed students were at risk. The program also provided students with an educational planning tool allowing them to map out their entire degree programs, along with a dashboard for managing their financial aid.
“As a result, the college saw increases in full- and part-time persistence for new and continuing students,” according to an article first published in Strategic Enrollment Management Quarterly. “In addition, the college experienced an 8% increase in persistence from fall to spring, and a 7% increase from fall to fall.”
Getting the Right Answers Requires Asking the Right Questions
You don’t know what you don’t know — especially without the data you need to prompt good questions in the first place. Information technology is a complicated creature, but in an educational landscape more dependent than ever on data (and those who know how to use it), this is an ideal time for IT teams to demonstrate not only their expertise but the value they can add to student success programs on both a daily and a strategic level.
This article is part of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s UniversITy blog series.