There are many figures and percentages available relating to student success and progression. What these do not measure, however, is the cost of each student who accepts a place in higher education but withdraws without award. We can quantify that cost in terms of the taxpayers’ investment or in terms of lost revenue for institutions, but the cost to the student is more difficult to measure and, most pertinently, is arguably the greatest.
Lost revenue and lost investments are easier to redress than lost opportunities.
One of the major retention challenges for institutions is finding such students before they become a statistic.
Learning Analytics (LA) and Educational Data Mining (EDM) can help to identify such students up to four months earlier than is currently possible. Given that the timeliness of interventions is a key predictor of success, the potential benefits of these approaches are immediately apparent.
The overall aims of the Learning Analytics and Educational Data Mining for Learning Impact project are:
· To raise awareness of emerging national and international policy and practice relating LA/EDM in all sectors of higher education in Ireland, among the student body, library/learning support staff, ICT/services staff and academic staff at all levels engaged in developing and teaching programmes and in senior/academic leadership roles.
· To establish a sustainable network of LA/EDM practitioners/collaborators in Irish HE with a view to proactive information sharing and development and dissemination of relevant case studies
· To provide informative briefings that can support the translation of LA/EDM research findings (national & international) into meaningful practice at scale within programmes/departments in different academic disciplines
· To develop a set of online resources (including links to already existing resources) relating to LA/EDM policy, practice and implementation at scale
· To foster intra- and inter-institutional collaboration in the development and implementation of LA/EDM initiatives, with particular reference in the first instance to implementation that target first year student retention
The full Terms of Reference for this project are available here.
In September 2016 Lee O Farrell was seconded from University College Dublin to lead the Learning Analytics project. The report will be available in summer 2017.