How Data Mining Is Transforming Higher Ed

Data mining is being used all over the world to provide more customized solutions and options to consumers. Companies like Amazon and Netflix use data mining to offer product suggestions to their customers based on their search/purchase history, and educational institutions are beginning to use the power of data mining to:

  • Recruit students
  • Offer career advice
  • Provide more customized student experiences

1. Student collaboration
Data mining is already being used at some universities to improve discussions in the classroom.  Software is used to collect students’ answers to questions in class in order to pair students who are struggling with the material with stronger students. The students help each other to understand the material by debating different answers, which engages them and makes them think critically and creatively.
2.  More customized student experience
In the world of “Generation Connected,” students are accustomed to having the option to customize everything. Data mining can be used to help students to create a wholly unique and individualized experience based on their needs and career goals by providing better advising, help with choosing courses, and homework aid.
3. Better advising
Data mining is already being implemented to advise students on their course selections. New software can help schools determine how well students will do in a course before they even enroll in the class, recommending courses and majors based on students’ academic records and previous performance. E-Advising systems are already being used at some higher-education institutions, and with new research they will become more widespread and efficient as a predictive tool for students.
4. College Selection
Selecting a college can be very daunting, but data mining may ease the process for prospective students. ConnectEDU is a service that uses an algorithm to find schools that would be the best fit for students based on 250 data points, including high-school academic records, standardized test scores, financial situation, and geographic information.
5.  Marketing
Data mining can help colleges select which students to whom to market their programs. Colleges can also use online marketing techniques in conjunction with their other marketing efforts to connect with prospective students. Online marketers can help education institutions develop more targeted campaigns and increase their leads. Data mining can reduce the cost of mass marketing and direct mail campaigns by restricting the sending of information to students who are genuinely interested.
6. Student Retention
Student retention is a concern at many education institutions; schools are constantly trying to find new ways to reduce the number of students who drop out or transfer to another institution.  Data mining could be a solution to the student retention issue. Rio Salado College in Arizona uses data on student performance in online courses to determine which students may be at risk of failing and subsequently dropping out. The algorithm monitors and assesses student behavior and helps alert professors about students who are struggling with the material.
7.  Career Path Selection
Data mining can also help students determine the career for which they are best suited. Using data about student academic performance and interests, data analysis systems can direct students to careers that are good matches for their skills. If they are under-performing in courses that are related to their ideal career, they may be steered toward an alternative career path in a similar field that is more compatible with their capabilities. It can help students realize their potential in a different career that they may not have initially chosen for themselves.

In a world brimming with technology, we should utilize the resources at our disposal to enhance the higher education system and help students achieve their goals through data mining. To learn more about how Fathom can help you reach out to prospective students and engage with them contact our Education team and follow us on Twitter: @EDU__Marketing

You can also read the “Stopping Short?” case study of one client’s success with Fathom’s  ”big data” analytics solution in a heavily regulated and intensely competitive environment.

How Big Data is Changing the College Experience
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