Decoding what it means to be a ‘data-driven’ campus

Rachel Bush
September 19, 2019
October 20, 2019

We live in a world that runs on data. The science of data studies determines how we shop, what we eat and how we lead our lives in general. While all major sectors like banking, e-commerce, etc. have shifted focus on data-driven results, the higher education industry has only recently stumbled upon the importance of data in driving student success at colleges and universities. Every institution has an enormous amount of data. But an institution can be termed as data-driven only when the big data is converted into smart data, leading to improved student performance.

Let’s break this down!

An educational institution can be deemed to be data-driven if:

  • Data such as student performance, student attendance, resource allocation, instructor feedback, etc. is collated in a centralized database that can be accessed by every administrator/professor on campus. 
  • Data and numbers are analyzed periodically to assess student performance and identify any problematic trends that might predict the risk of student failure. 
  • Members of the institution make data-orientated decisions while planning a course of action to help students.
  • Facts, figures, and patterns from the data are used to create future projections and actionable plans for bettering student graduation rates

So what are the perks of a data-driven campus?

According to David Kirp, a higher education researcher at UC Berkeley, there are over 34 million college dropouts above the age of 25 in the US alone. Finding a solution to the alarming number of dropouts is  a pressing need and priority for institutions not just in the United States, but globally. And this is where big data comes into the picture.

A university that studies data closely and makes decisions based on data observations is bound to see improved student success rates, higher enrolment rates, lesser dropout percentage and better utilization of resources. Being data-driven also allows colleges to gauge the success of a particular program and make amends to it based on the feedback from data. Since the data is accessible to everyone in the team and not just to the leaders, it helps all the members to see the bigger picture, understand their role better and plan ways to support students.

Here’s a lowdown on implementing a data-driven culture in your campus

  • The first step towards introducing data on the campus is to get all the key players on board by shining a spotlight on the importance of data research and analysis in higher education. 
  • Adopt the right tech to integrate different types of data collated from various systems to display under one platform. In other words, transform big data into smart data. 
  • The next step is to make the data readily available and simple to understand for every stakeholder. 
  • Then, set up clear goals by focusing on streamlining important data from the plethora of data. 
  • The leaders need to specify their expectations from each and every individual in the team. 
  • At the same time, a channel of open communication needs to be established where everyone involved can voice out the hurdles they are being faced with, in the implementation of the data-oriented process. 
  • By carefully analyzing data from the past, trends and patterns need to be identified which in turn will help in predicting future projections. 

Based on smart data and predictive analysis, which will help identify students at risk and other trends, universities will then be capable of taking actions to ensure student success.