Today’s college students have become accustomed to experiencing tailored digital experiences through Google Maps and commerce-site product recommendations. At the ASU GSV Summit, several National University faculty and staff spoke on a panel about how higher education can better respond to these expectations by creating learning pathways that are distinctively personalized to how each student learns.

The panel, entitled “Precision Education: Delivering a Tailored Educational Experience to Each Student,” was given by members of the Precision Institute team, including Dr. Huda Makhluf, interim director and chief academic officer, and Jonathan Chillas, vice president of data analytics and chief data officer, at the Precision Institute at National University.

During their session, the Precision Education team introduced the research and technology that has been created in an effort to give students the additional layer of personalization and support to build their confidence and cross the finish line. The project has been funded through an initial infusion of $20 million to identify, test, and integrate ed-tech approaches to personalized learning from the point of student entry to graduation as well as career development support.

“The Precision Education initiative is rooted in building a comprehensive ecosystem to ensure that every student is successful,” said Dr. Huda Makhluf, interim director and chief academic officer of the Precision Institute at National University.

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, predictive analytics, and algorithms are deployed to ensure the success of every learner. Many pieces are required to ensure student success, including goal-setting and career exploration tools, enhanced courses on navigator platform, large variety of student support services, behavioral science-guided nudging, badging and micro-credentialing, comprehensive student dashboard, and deep data analytics.

They called out the unique aspects of the Precision Education initiative, such as its comprehensive approach to exploring a wide range of projects collectively. This includes deconstructing courses into learning competency “chunks” that allow for the system to test students on their understanding and mastery of concepts. They also discussed leveraging data analytics so that, over time, the technologies driving the system can predict what pieces of information will help students learn more effectively.

“Our Precision Education model allows for accurate assessment of skills, abilities and knowledge,” said Jonathon Chillas, vice president and chief data officer at National University and the Precision Institute. “We then deliver customized instruction, on demand through an evidence based and data driven approach to fill any knowledge gaps. We continuously monitor student progress in real time, which allows us to act quickly and intervene when we see a student veering into at-risk territory. As a result, we’ve seen better midterm and final grades, decreased drop rates, and increased student engagement, all of which are the primary goals of this project.”

As a University primarily serving adult learners, they explained how National University acknowledges and helps tackle each student’s life barriers that may make it seem increasingly difficult to accomplish their educational goals.

With Precision Education, National University is able to provide personalized access to professors and tailor course pathways that enhance each student’s ability to succeed in our programs and obtain their degree. Examples of the kinds of projects being worked on through the Precision Education initiative include:

  • Adaptive Machine Learning Instruction
  • Competency-Based Learning 
  • First Course Screening Assessment (Undergraduates)
  • Micro-badging/Nanodegrees 
  • Online Student Goal Setting (Academic and Career focus)
  • Advisor and Adjunct Matching
  • Navigating Learning, and Learning Supports (i.e. Course Navigator)
  • Data Integrity

If you would like additional information on each project, please visit our website or email us at precision@nu.edu.

About National University
Founded in 1971, National University is among the largest, private nonprofit universities in California. With more than 150,000 alumni, National University is the flagship institution of the National University System, a network of universities—including Northcentral University, City University of Seattle, and John F. Kennedy University—and PreK-12 programs. National University is dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible, challenging, and relevant to a diverse population of students, including adult learners. Programs are offered at both campus locations and online, and National University is actively developing, testing and applying personalized learning approaches through initiatives guided by the Precision Institute at National University. For more information, please visit nu.edu.