Actionable Intelligence: Big Data for Student Success

Presentation Summary

Barrie Fitzgerald and Brian A. Haugabrook, Valdosta State University

In 2009, Complete College America began working towards assisting states with increasing the number of conferred college degrees in the nation; additionally, the State of Georgia in 2012 adopted its own version to help increase the number of degrees conferred. In order to accomplish this at Valdosta State University (VSU), it needed to examine its techniques in helping students succeed. VSU began researching how the public and private sectors use analytics to help students succeed. After the analysis, VSU applied similar techniques to increase the efficiency, reduce attrition, and increase retention and graduation rates. In Fall 2012, an actionable intelligence approach was implemented providing a two-way communication system between faculty, advisors, and academic support centers. Throughout the academic year, students' needs, strengths, and weaknesses were communicated between faculty and academic support staff to target resources to help student succeed academically. To assist faculty and support staff in determining students' academic strengths and weaknesses, predictive models for retention and pass rates were developed to identify factors that may affect students' likelihood of retaining at the university and succeeding in courses. By combining predictive analytics, enterprise data warehousing, and custom applications, our institution was able to provide needed support to students within the first few days of the semester rather than closer to the end. VSU has seen statistically significant improvements in student pass rates and retention among faculty users. Additionally, VSU developed a student portal to display academic resources to aid in students' success. If a student was having challenges in a course, actionable triggers and alerts display ads for academic support resources in the portal. Providing instant information required a change in business practices and procedures to define action steps when students were identified as at-risk. Two years later, VSU has experienced almost a 4.0% increase in retention and between a 3.5% to 5.0% increase in pass rates of first-time, full-time freshmen. By using actionable intelligence via a two-way communication system and an academic success ad-driven portal, VSU is taking steps in meeting the completion agenda. This session will provide an overview of changes at Valdosta State University and demonstration of the technologies used to facilitate the proactive and predictive engagement of student support before it is too late.

Presentation Speaker(s)

Barrie Fitzgerald, Brian A. Haugabrook

Presentation Files

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