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Interaction data key to improving university student success
Tue, 31st Jan 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Analyse this - interaction data key to improving university student success

These are indeed trying times for the Higher Education (HE) providers. Nowhere has this been more apparent than at the recent HE Fest hosted by Tribal Group in Queenstown, where educators from around the region gathered to discuss issues, challenges and share insights and possible solutions.

The burning question remains as a new academic year dawns – how can universities make engagement more meaningful and improve student outcomes? The key to getting on the front foot of the compromised student HE experience is data.

Ian Marshman, University of Melbourne and keynote speaker at Tribal Group's APAC HE Fest suggests that data could set universities on the right path today to better plan for the future.

“There is now this new generation of systems, learning analytics and business analytics which certainly compel universities to move on and shape their strategy by informed decision making, based on information and data rather than leading solely by intuition.

Learning from Data

The field of learning analytics is undoubtedly one that is compelling for Higher Education, as institutions around the globe are increasingly challenged to meet rising expectations in a rapidly changing environment. Shifts to outcome-based assessment and reporting models are placing an increased responsibility on institutions to understand the patterns and trends that impact student engagement and ultimately, their success.

Presently, universities identify students who are at risk of dropping out of their course, or who are not making the desired academic progress is based on a limited set of downstream indicators, such as academic results.

However, the data that reside within university services may unlock powerful insights and improve student journeys. By tracking student interactions with university services, educators are able to predict student performance and identify potential “at-risk” students, so interventions can be made at an early stage to fully enable them to meet their potential. Staff can access information about levels of student engagement, to quickly identify students who are at risk of not completing their course successfully. It can also provide information that helps them to understand the student cohort and what factors could be changed to bring about improvements to the student experience and increase retention.

Staff are able to track the impact of interventions and see which are making a difference and improving the student experience. Students can be compared to peers, to identify other students with similar issues and see how the student's progress compares to similar students.

The opportunities from data to make student engagement more meaningful and successful are truly boundless. Analytics enable staff to better understand student needs and where they may end up.

All across the world, the challenge of widening successful participation for Higher Education remains. As local educators brace themselves for the start of many hopeful student journeys this year, it is worth considering how the use of data can underpin the success of those journeys.