Big data offers path forward for retention initiatives

Dive Brief:

  • Only about half of students who enroll in a post-secondary program actually graduate in six years, but big data offers an opportunity to tailor retention programs to unique student populations.
  • EdTech reports that Helix Education’s new guide, “Predictive Student Retention: The Power of Data Coaching,” urges colleges to tie student information to data about how they actually do in their programs, creating predictive models that help counselors and academic coaches do their jobs.
  • Helix Education is part of a growing market of predictive technology solutions, which have received attention from, among others, President Barack Obama, businessman and investor Mark Cuban, and the Robin Hood Foundation.

Dive Insight:

Colleges and universities have been sitting on reams of data for years. A shifting focus in the industry from pure enrollment to student outcomes has motivated many institutions to start using it. Georgia State University has seen positive results from an aggressive focus on data to keep students on track and set them on a path toward graduation and a job. Purdue University has also improved student outcomes through its predictive program, Course Signals, which gives students information as early as two weeks into a term about their progress.

The goal of many of these programs is to help students understand how their own behaviors impact their education. While some students check out and can’t be brought back, many simply find out too late in a course that they’ve set themselves up to fail. Faculty have also tapped into data to revise their lectures based on where students need the most help.

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