A UK education technology business recently hit US colleges and universities after a three-year trial of its pioneering analysis and monitoring software. The pilot project, at Nottingham Trent University in the UK, has demonstrated marked improvements in students’ academic performance, with over 15 per cent more of their students now achieving top class degrees.
UK-based Solutionpath, founded in 2012, has developed a software product called StREAM which measures and analyses student digital ‘engagement’, accurately identifying students who are at risk of early withdrawal from their course, or of under-achieving academically.
The software launched in the US at the EDUCAUSE Annual conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on October 31.
The firm has already met with several US colleges and universities and has announced it will embark on initial data analysis and verification projects, and Beta testing of their enhanced US software package early in 2018.
The company’s analytics software monitors and assesses high frequency digital interactions logged each time a student ‘engages’ with the university or college in carrying out their day-to-day activities such as using the LMS, the library system, or attending a lecture, alongside data on academic progress.
The resulting analytics enable universities to identify students at academic risk at a much earlier stage so that staff can intervene and offer the help and support required, which in UK trials has been up to 20 weeks in advance of an individual students withdrawal.
Solutionpath has been working with Nottingham Trent University for the past three years, trialling and developing the system with undergraduates. The software is particularly valuable in the first year of students’ degree courses, one of the most common times for problems to arise in the transition from high school to university
David Woolley, head of schools, colleges and community outreach at Nottingham Trent University, said: “There’s a very clear association between students using the StREAM software, and their academic success when compared to their peers who were not using it.”
“We saw some impressive results: in 2015-16 over 65 per cent of students who used the Solutionpath software achieved a 2:1 or first class degree compared to just under 50 per cent of students who did not use StREAM,” he continued. “Students who used it more often were even more successful, with 72 per cent of those who logged in ten or more times scoring a 2:1 or first.”
Howard Hall, CEO and co-founder of Solutionpath, said: “While the analytics that StREAM delivers are highly complex, as the trial with Nottingham Trent has shown, the benefits for both students and universities of using big data in this way are beautifully simple. Dropping out of university or under-achieving in their degree can be a personal disaster for a young person and extremely worrying for their family, and for the university the loss of course fee revenues involved is significant too.”
“Our analytics not only help prevent a student reaching these crisis points where they no longer feel they can continue with their studies, but also help keep students engaged and motivated to achieve the best academic outcomes they can,” he explained.
“We need to ensure we find the right US college and university collaboration partners whom we can invest in to help us enter the US higher education market, as we are adding more features and functionality to the software specifically to meet the needs of the US market, but already the feedback has been fantastic and we are excited about our 2018 launch here,” concluded Mr Hall.
Solutionpath is currently working with 11 universities in the UK and Australia.
Material from a press release was used in this report.