Administrators at one Minnesota college began to analyze each student individually, and, according to an article by Eric Kelderman with The Chronicle, they found a pattern that has been costing the school and the students time and money. This study has paved the path for this and other institutions to not only save on these things, but also to improve the quality of education.
This college was allowing students to enroll as late as the Friday before the semester began. Basically, the pattern they found was that the students who waited until the last minute to register for classes usually performed the worst in class. "As a result of that finding, the college required new students to apply at least 10 days before the start of the semester, and similar efforts are being studied at other institutions in the statewide system," according to the article.
The main reason for this reform is to save students from investing time and money into taking courses, only to perform poorly or drop out, forcing them to retake the same courses later on. But the most fascinating discovery from this finding is that there are real benefits to analyzing each student individually and looking for patterns of failure and success. Findings from these studies like these can lead to better performances from students, improved teaching methods, and better use of time and money by both schools and students.
"With the growing demand for improving college completion rates has come a need for more thorough information about just how well or poorly colleges and their students are performing on a variety of measures," Kelderman wrote in The Chronicle. "In a growing number of states, that data is being used to improve the number of students who finish their degrees. Some states and higher-education systems are even connecting data about individual students to the jobs they get after college, to determine the average wage earned by graduates of particular programs."
According to the article, the U.S. Department of Education is helping to fund state efforts to analyze students and discover what’s working, what’s not working, and what improvements can and need to be made from preschool all the way through college by providing a $250 million federal stimulus bill. This bill should prove to be beneficial because unlike Minnesota, many states did not previously have the means to analyze their students individually.
There are still plenty of kinks that need to be worked out, such as determining a common national definition of a degree-seeking student, the qualifications of part time and full time students, and developing a common set of data points by which to analyze each student. However, efforts are being made, and according to the article, two-thirds of the states have either started to or agreed to analyze their students on an individual basis, increase transparency by making this information public, and find ways to improve their state’s education.
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