Analytics use boosts student retention
Analytics expert says only 1 percent of colleges use data to help shape campus policies
By Dennis Carter, Assistant Editor
Phil Ice knows numbers never lie.
Ice, vice president of research and development for American Public University System (APUS), has watched retention rates at the 97,000-student online school steadily climb with the continued analysis of in-depth information that shows when a student might be on the verge of dropping out.
If a student’s test scores are dropping, participation numbers are low, and disengagement is evident through various statistics, the numbers suggest that student might not last much longer at APUS.
How can professors and university officials know precisely which students are in danger of giving up on their education? One surefire strategy is to examine how many days have passed since the student last logged onto his or her course website.
If it’s been a while since the online student checked the site for syllabus updates or discussion sessions, APUS’s analytics system will flag the student as a potential dropout.
“We hone in on things such as a student’s perception of being able to build effective community,” Ice said.
APUS professors and instructors use information detailing a student’s online engagement with a comprehensive survey to create a model of student retention and satisfaction, according to the university.
“We’ve been using analytics before it was a buzz word in higher education,” Ice said.