Technologies such like Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence are helping higher education leaders to focus on retention, persistence and graduation.
This is because, colleges and Universities are looking for more effective ways to support student success with timely guidance.
Across the world, among the pressing issues that higher education leaders cannot afford to miss at any cost, student retention and helping students attain their desired degrees is definitely vital ones. Facts give a very dismal picture of the actual state of affairs. Yes, as per a report prepared by the College Atlas, one gets to know that, in the US, nearly 30% of college and University students drop out after their first year. Further, 60% of those attending college too fail to graduate. This serious situation on college dropout was also highlighted in another report prepared by Deloitte, it came to light that ‘every year across the United States, a significant number of students fail to complete their degrees.’
In fact, it is not just an issue, important to just US higher education. Right now, it is a global concern and needs to be tackled with carefully. When talking of preventing students from dropping out in the middle of their graduation, this can be done by creating basic conditions to make students feel safe, comfortable and capable to accomplish their goals. Student engagement and strategies aim to maintain people in the campus by providing a positive and a meaningful learning experience.
Application of emerging technology or one that makes use of data analytics is helping various higher education institutions to leverage meaningful data about each students which help to combat retention problem. From a report, one finds example of how Arizona State University with the help of adaptive learning technologies improved their success rate from being 76% previously to 94% after adopting technology solution. The advanced technology has also helped them to reduce the dropout rate from being 15% to 1.5% after using adaptive learning technology. This is so because, improving student retention actually begins with a thorough understanding of the reasons behind attrition rates.
Similarly, with the help of advanced technology (data driven technology), administrators and teachers understand the basis for accurately predicting at risk students and appropriately intervening to retain them. Now, there could be an end number of reasons behind students leaving college without completing their course. These reasons may or may not be related to academics. They may be for personal reasons, money issues and family responsibilities.
Machine Learning Techniques Boost Student Retention
Machine learning or Artificial Intelligence sounds abstract but they are great tools to improve retention strategies in higher education institutions as they help detect patterns and react responsively.
Students who generally abandon college or Universities and fail to complete their degrees are both economical and face emotional loss for families and institutions. The Higher education institutions generally use methods and customized support from data, studies, forms and specialized literature to reduce this trend. If they are unable to alert student defection by Machine Learning and project demand for courses and groups, planning and controlling assistance.
Big Data and Predictive Analytics improve Student Retention
The use of big data in higher education or educational data mining helps student affairs plan programs, outreach services and activities with student attributes in mind. For Instance:
When improving student engagement and retention, the most important thing is to have an input of information during the orientation period right at the start of the college sessions is crucial to nurture educational Data Mining. This is because, such data can be used in this period to provide considerable insight for academic planning enrollments, course scheduling campus management and primarily entry-level data for retention strategies to detect and address students who are at risk of dropping out early.
The data that is extracted with the help of big data can actually provide interesting insights as most of the information is not processed. Therefore, with qualitative research inputs available at one’s disposal, higher education leaders get an understanding of why students drop out and thereby come up with programs for students that help in turning things around.
Colleges & Universities using Emerging Tech to Combat Dropouts
Southern Connecticut State University
In order to combat the issue of retention, the university had teamed up with IBM to use data analytics tool. The administrators of this University makes use of data to plan involvement of the institution to provide additional support to the students who are facing certain challenges and because of such may need to leave school before graduating.
With the help of artificial intelligence software, the college identifies students who are perhaps the first generation to go to college. Such identification allows the college to provide additional support to the students because these students may not receive the necessary guidance at home.
This university has developed a system called ‘Course Signals’ to help predict academic and behavioral issues in students. What this system does is, it notifies the students as well as the teachers to take action when required and help them reach their potential by decreasing the dropout rates.
The system with the help of predictive modelling with data mining is able to help students in academic preparation, in engagement, effort levels and academic performance in a given point of time. And for the students at risk of failing or drop out, a red indicating mark reflects in any students profile.
Nottingham Trent University
Student engagement manager of the University- Ed Foster tells big data helps them build a better sense of belonging between students and their tutors and help improve students’ engagement with their course.
This university uses electronic submission of coursework and therefore they keep tracking students’ progress, judging through metrics. If any student is found with low engagement for two weeks, the teachers automatically receive an email which encourages them to open a dialogue with the student. This kind of data analysis is thus helping the teachers of the university to identify those at risk and one who is doing better.
Thus, one finds that big data technology used by different colleges and Universities is not simply helping these institutions in the area of retention but also to boost student enrolment. Schools and colleges are tracking prospective pupils’ digital footprints and making calculated decisions related to their admission outreach. Facets on this area can be obtained from a report by the Atlantic.
The major advantage of emerging technology application is that, it gives institutions multiple tools that assists them to keep their students on track and complete courses or graduation without dropping out in the middle.
So what are your thoughts on using big data technology for student retention? Are you using it in your institution? Do write to us about your views on it through your comments.