Tertiary talk


Five essential principles for improving student success

Tertiary Talk - May 2018

Andy Clark, Cole Clark Deloitte Consulting LLP

Predictive analytics in higher education

Over the past decade, many US colleges and universities have invested in tools to address student success, particularly retention and completion metrics. Unfortunately, outcomes and student engagement measures show little improvement.

Predictors of student success

Even incremental improvements in retention and completion can have a profound positive impact on students' long-term earnings potential and career aspirations—as well as the economic health of the institution making the improvements.

Predictive analytics in higher education can help institutions measure student success factors and create college student success strategies that actually improve outcomes—but only by addressing both aspects of analytics:

  1. Rigour around data collection and the insights that can be gained from analysing disparate data sets, specifically predictors of student success.
  2. Taking these predictors of student success and establishing effective action as part of an overall student success strategy.

In other words, once you have applied analytics to student data to measure student success and gain insights into predictors of success, the hard work begins: Connecting these insights to actions that actually support student success.

Examples of actions include sending students an instant message reminder about an important test, pushing an adviser to reach out on a financial aid topic, or simply sending encouragement electronically during a particularly challenging course. Paired with consistent, persistent engagement with the student through other channels at the same time can be key to developing a pattern of success over time.

The five principles for improving student outcomes

College student success strategies are changing—predictive analytics in higher education is showing real promise as a tool for improving how we measure success and identify predictors of student success to achieve meaningful change. Deloitte recently published Five essential principles for improving student outcomes a high-level guide to help leaders understand the hallmarks of successful application of predictive analytics in higher education.

Five key principles can help us tap the full potential of predictive analytics to move forward and improve outcomes:

  1. Student success should become central to the mission of your institution
  2. Action taken is as important as the analytical insight
  3. Understand the value and limits of technology to address student success
  4. People investments are as important as technology investments
  5. Improving student success does not equal reduction in quality

As we collaborate with clients and strategic partners on student success initiatives, all five of these principles continually prove crucial to successful application of predictive analytics in higher education. 

Helping bring predictive analytics to college student success strategies

While technology sounds complicated, it is actually the less difficult aspect of the extremely complex challenge of student success. Institutional leadership, change management, and decisions about action elements of the solution are more difficult to get right.

To make meaningful progress in an area so vital to our long-term advancement as a society, all of these elements should be addressed with equal vigor.

By looking at current and upcoming trends in higher education, Deloitte helps to strategize more effective ways of reaching the students of today as well as recruiting the students of tomorrow.


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