bowl in the dark,” as Melinda Gates cautions against. Rather it’s about moving toward a time when analytics tools and the infrastructures upon which they are built are so common that they neither dominate the dialogue nor are positioned as the ultimate answer to education’s challenges. Going away for analytics in this sense allows us to turn our focus more fully to our missions, learning strategies, and the many ways in which people, processes, and technology can be applied to our various educational causes. Analytics conversations simply blend into the background and the tools and infrastructure power the larger work behind the scenes. Much like we don’t wax poetic about the amazing innovation that powers our lights in our colleges and universities—and trust me, electrical engineers will tell you, light bulbs and power grids are a thing of beauty and ridiculously important for how we live, learn, play and work. Rather, we are more concerned with the expansion of innovative evening classes, the safety of parking lots, the championship football game played at 8:00 pm on Saturday. Power and lights may make all these possible, but they are decidedly not the focus. In this sense, we’re getting closer to making analytics “go away”. For example, this spring Civitas Learning formally launched Illume Impact. This module is shining a light not on itself, but on the effectiveness of everything from flipped-classroom initiatives to orientation programs to tutoring services to targeted strategic outreach. As Impact rolls out, we’re watching Civitas Learning’s partner colleges and universities explore the persistence gains of an array of programs and processes, revealing often promising and sometimes problematic empirical outcomes. Moreover, powered by their Student Insights Engines, our partners are launching and learning about the effectiveness of a host of other efforts to help support their students, including:When it comes to the seemingly ever-present articles and conference conversations on analytics in education, there are educators, policy makers, and non-profit leaders muttering some version of “Please make it go away!” I’m one of them. However, I mean “go away” differently than you might think—and I don’t think I’m alone. What many dedicated educators are looking forward to is not a time when we turn the lights back off and “
- Institution-wide retention campaigns at University of South Florida that have increased first-year persistence rates to historic highs, supported double-digit gains in graduation rates, and close the achievement gaps between diverse students–and unlocked millions in performance-based funding in the process.
- Mindset messaging campaigns at Lone Star College aimed at high-GPA students at high-risk of leaving are seeing up to 9.5% persistence gains.
- Opt-in, online tutoring registered 5% persistence gains for first-year and African American students.
- Degree Map and College Scheduler apps, where institutions are seeing 3-11% persistence gains across the board. Interestingly, the Degree Map outcomes are particularly strong for struggling students (up to 19% persistence lifts for the highest risk students), and College Scheduler is even more impactful with stronger students, especially in STEM. It’s one of the reasons we’re combining these apps in our personalized pathways work in the coming year.
- On-ground tutoring centers having an impact of 5.5% persistence gains and their online tutoring centers having 6.9% persistence bumps.
- Greek life and residential life programs showing significant positive impact on persistence.
- Finally, this New York Times story features the work of University of Arizona, El Paso Community College, and Sinclair College, where they found much more powerful graduation signal in courses that most students passed like writing and intro to biology. Now they are diving into work to nudge students to writing centers and/or possible course and pathway redesign.