The Agenda

The Potential of Predictive Analytics in Higher Ed

As a great believer in the power of Big Data, I was delighted by Paul Fain’s article in Inside Higher Ed on a new database that tracks the online coursework of 640,000 across 3 million course-level records:

The data set has the potential to give institutions sophisticated information about small subsets of students – such as which academic programs are best suited for a 25-year-old male Latino with strength in mathematics, for example. The tool could even become a sort of Match.com for students and online universities, Ice said.

That application is nowhere near to being a reality, in part because institutions are loath to share competitive information with each other, or the general public. But researchers said the project will almost certainly help other colleges follow Rio Salado’s lead in using predictive analytics to help design better academic programs.

“If institutions of higher education did more of this type of analytics,” Díaz said, they could tell their prospective students: “Look, these are the kinds of students who tend to have more success at our institution.”

Thanks to Tyler Cowen for the pointer.

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