State colleges using latest technology

State colleges using latest technology

Posted: Friday, March 9, 2012 1:03 pm

College students use tech tools for everything from ordering pizza to playing games. Now the same technology software is being used to help them decide which courses will help them graduate faster, which courses will result in better grades, and even what subject to choose for a major.
The technology, developed by Austin Peay State University’s provost Tristan Denley, uses data to first identify the course requirements for the student’s major, then find the classes in which the student is most likely to perform well. The tool scans the university’s records to compare the success of similar students taking similar classes – much like online shopping programs recommend products purchased by other customers.
“It helps them make better, more informed choices by using something they’re already familiar with – a smart phone or mobile device app,” said Denley.  While it doesn’t replace traditional faculty advising, it makes the advising process easier and faster for both students and faculty.
Effective at Austin Peay, the same technology will soon be in use on three other Tennessee Board of Regents campuses across the state — Nashville State Community College, Volunteer State Community College and the University of Memphis – thanks to a grant from Complete College America, in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
A portion of the $1 million grant has allowed the software to be adapted for use at the other colleges and tested for possible expansion and use state-wide.
“We know that the more time it takes a student to earn a degree, the less likely they are to successfully complete,” said TBR Chancellor John Morgan. “With all the challenges facing students on a regular basis, knowing which courses to take when shouldn’t be a barrier. This tool will make it easier and help improve student advising.”
The program, called the DegreeCompass, was quickly adopted for use at Austin Peay, where Denley says it accurately predicted a student’s performance within half a letter grade. It uses predictive analytics through a complex algorithm that pulls data and statistics from the university’s student database. Now he and his colleagues are working on a feature to help students choose a major – or find one that better fits their past performance and one that has proven a positive choice by others with similar grades and characteristics. Published in The WCP 3.8.12

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