How Business Intelligence Can Help Student Retention

Higher Education organizations are being challenged by pressures to increase funding sources by controlling student retention, a mission complex even for the smallest of institutions.  Academic leaders are searching for tools to help their faculty and management teams pinpoint areas of need and find solutions to reduce student drop out rates.  They are looking to their immense data collected through student portals and learning management systems, enrollment processes, curriculum and faculty sources to help create critical real-time actions.

Consider the problem of student retention in a college or university setting.  Studies have shown that faculty has a huge impact on student retention, what if faculty could access data in a non-static format that would allow them to immediately take steps to help a student who is faltering?  Would it help faculty to see a dashboard matrix populated with vital information such as:

•A list of their current students who have missed two days of class in a row.
•A list of any students who did not turn in assignment XX, or a graph of the submitted grades.
•All students who received a grade below a C on quiz.
•Student progression in their degree program, etc.

The possibilities are incredible; with dashboarding capabilities, faculty could use data to easily assign tutoring to students wavering, not at mid-point or at final exams, but early in the semester when it is possible to make a difference, batch e-mail students who missed class or didn’t log into the learning management system, or email student success coaches with concerns.  Faculty could also visually compare course structures and assessments to student learning outcomes and identify areas in need of improvement.

Higher Education leadership should investigate how business intelligence solutions can support faculty and managers in the use of data to help students succeed.  Student success is one key factor to create a sustainable financial atmosphere in an environment where more accountability and less funding are becoming the norm.

(Willie Pomeroy)

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