Interest in analytics is growing on higher education campuses, as evidenced by the emerging role of chief data officers, investment in analytics solutions and maturing approaches to student privacy.
One of the most prevalent applications is the use of predictive analytics in student recruitment and retention. Purdue University and other institutions are finding ways to identify student behaviors that support academic success or, conversely, indicate that a student is struggling and would benefit from an intervention. Purdue, for example, is capturing data points around grades, degree progress, interaction with the course management system and use of certain campus locations, as evidenced by ID card swipes. The university then analyzes that information in concert with the LMS and other systems.
Some of the most effective retention initiatives achieve success by focusing on specific targets. Honolulu Community College, for example, recently piloted a program focused on retaining students who are underrepresented in STEM fields. The program brings together data from several sources into an early-alert system that helps to keep these students in class and on track.
As many institutions achieve success with academic-oriented analytics, others are leveraging the data capture and dashboarding capabilities provided by analytics software to deepen their insights into business and financial operations. Often, these capabilities permit a level of visibility across systems — and across silos — that was previously impossible, as IT teams sought to capture data in different formats, from different sources.
Stanford University is using analytics to fight fraud and reduce waste, a significant concern for a procurement office handling more than 1 million transactions annually and $2.2 billion in disbursements. Manual monitoring of that many transactions was impractical, so the university prioritized audits based on federal regulations and internal policies.