• Featured
  • 12.14.20

The Value of Faculty Input on Predictive Analytics

  • by Melanie S. Simpson, Assistant Provost, Institutional Research, Assessment and Effectiveness, The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Post-secondary institutions are feeling pressure from the top down to predict trends based on enrollment, student retention, and graduation rates. Student success measures have become a baseline for developing strategic plan initiatives relating to budget decisions across the institution, which include programmatic outcomes. Faculty input helps us capture the relationship between institutional analytics and the story we tell about our programs and campus community.

When working through large-scale projects on a college campus, it is often valuable to have several stakeholders at the table to discuss the narrative of the data and how they will be used for stakeholder engagement. This engaged conversation could cover financial decisions, student success indicators, alumni giving, communication plans, and strategic plan initiatives. Stakeholders can vary from one unit to the next in how the data will be used and implemented, but one stakeholder group that provides valuable input in predictive analytics is faculty.

The value that faculty add to predictive analytics is beneficial to institutions because our faculty are front-line responders in regards to recruitment and retention. For instance, the cost to recruit, educate, and retain students is on the rise, making retention even more important for bottom-line financial stakeholders. Predictive analytics help us identify which students are likely to enroll, the courses they are likely to take, their probability of success, and the types of support they will need to help them achieve their goals. Predictive analytics can also incorporate various sources of information. The learning management systems, for example, integrate data from across campus to assist faculty in advising, recruiting, and retention. It may also encourage faculty to explore student outcomes outside of the classroom and their impact on overall student success.

Faculty input and buy-in is important to ensure that we understand how data are used and interpreted, while we continue building stronger analyses. At the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), the Office of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Effectiveness has partnered with the College of Business to construct Microsoft Power BI dashboards to help faculty see the success of their students. Our faculty help to define programmatic success directly as they provide information to predict analytics using program outcomes and measures. These conversations assist our decision making at UAH and help us tell detailed stories with our data, while also aiding us in building robust models that inevitably lead to student success. If faculty input is not something that you have been able to utilize, I encourage you to do so and to have conversations with those faculty and staff on the academic side of campus.