One of the most important features of Precision Education is that students can move at their own pace, following pathways customized to help them reach their educational goal. In order to stay motivated, they need to know what competencies they need (traditionally represented as courses) and to be able to see, in real time, how rapidly they are progressing.

To give our students that information, we are working with a company called Pragya Higher Education Systems to build a personalized digital dashboard that will provide our students with real-time data on their current courses, courses passed, and people, clubs, events, skills and content that can help them make the best possible decisions about their education and their career path.

The dashboard is like the lobby of a hotel. You enter through the lobby and, from there, can connect to a broad array of resources, information, and pathways. You can access the registration desk or a concierge who provides detailed information of things to do and places to see. Or, you can get on the elevator to access other places and services: your room, the hotel restaurant, the business center, the ATM machine, conference rooms, and so forth. You might also think of the emerging complexity of the dashboards on new cars, providing feedback on everything from speed to entertainment to weather.  Also, alerting you potential hazards and making real time recommendations.

Snapshot of Student Progress

Similarly, the dashboard connects all of the components of Precision Education in one place.  One of the most important features is a color-coded circle representing a student’s individualized academic plan. Wedges of the circle show the courses the student is taking currently, the credits transferred from elsewhere, the National University credits completed, and classes that are either incomplete or are outside the plan’s scope.

The dashboard also shows students their overall grade point average as well as their grades for individual classes and how their grades compare to those of classmates. If a student is not performing well, the dashboard helps them understand why and offers steps they can take to improve. It might show, for example, that the student falling behind is spending only two hours a week on class assignments and studying, far below the class average. Hopefully, the student will be motivated to work harder. But the dashboard also might suggest putting in some time at the writing center or sitting down with a tutor or other remedies.
Finally, the dashboard recommends internships or extra-curricular activities that will give students a more specific boost toward their career or educational goals.

Giving the Dashboard a Test Drive

A few hundred National University students will try out the current version of the dashboard this fall and we’ll follow their progress as well as the progress of a similar control group. As with every component of our Precision Education initiative, we’re gathering data so that every decision we make in designing the system is evidence-based. But, we’re confident that, one way or another, making students feel connected to the university and various resources and giving them information that gives them greater control over their educational and career pathways is the right way to go.

Blog post written by Dr. David Andrews, President of National University. Precision Education at National University is a research-based initiative that is exploring new ways to leverage technology, open education resources, and predictive data analytics to adapt to student needs and guide them to successful completion of their academic and career goals. Learn more at: https://www.nu.edu/precision/