An area of interest among a growing number of higher education institutions is in how to better leverage predictive analytics to improve the student experience. At the 2019 ASU GSV Summit, National University Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Success Dr. Brandon Jouganatos and Vice President and Chief Data Officer Jonathon Chillas shared insight into how National University, though its Precision Education initiative, is increasingly using predictive analytics to identify at-risk students, engage with them, and intervene at opportune times in a panel presentation titled “Leveraging Predictive Analytics to Identify, Engage, and Support At-Risk Students.”

Specifically, the speakers shed light on the fact that analytics can be leveraged to improve student course scheduling, reduce drop rates, and increase in the average number of courses/units taken per student.

“It’s inspiring to witness an institution such as National University come together to engage its at-risk students by leveraging predictive analytics and deploying personalized interventions,” said Dr. Brandon Jouganatos, vice president of enrollment management and student success at National University. “We welcomed the opportunity to share some insight into our journey towards personalized education at the ASU GSV Summit and look forward to the improvement of successful outcomes for at-risk student populations at National University and across all higher education institutions.”

The ability to apply predictive analytics more broadly within higher education is one of the areas that National University is advancing through the $20 million Precision Education initiative, which is exploring ways to leverage technology, data, and communications to create a truly customized learning experience for all students. Adapting to student needs while guiding them to successful completion of their academic and career goals is a primary focus of National University, and recent technology advances makes this much more attainable.

Two examples of how predictive analytics have helped improve our programs:

  • The implementation of the Early Warning System. Through a tool called Ilume, which was developed by Civitas Learning, we are able to collect about 100 variables on each student and amalgamate them to help us anticipate problems before they arise. 
  • By surveying out students, we are able to help them follow through much more effectively. For example, student support team members can recommend they get more specific tutoring and also schedule an appointment with an advisor during the same phone call if they see this particular student in need of both of these interventions.

These tactics, which were piloted last year, are encouraging as they have motivated far more students who had been “at-risk” of dropping out of college and ceasing their coursework to continue and complete their courses.

“To gauge the Precision Education model’s effectiveness, we looked the average number of units taken per student, the average retention rate and overall drop rate pre- and post-intervention,” said Jonathon Chillas, vice president and chief data officer at National University and the Precision Institute.

The Precision Education team found that the post-intervention cohort experienced a 3.2 percentage point increase in retention, which is a 5 percent improvement in the number of students who return the second year. He said the team also found a 23 percent improvement in the drop rate, which equates to nearly 8,000 drops mitigated due to personalized outreach. “Moving forward, we expect this to translate into a 5 to 10 percent improvement in completion rates from current efforts,” he said.

For additional information on National University’s Precision Education initiative, which includes both active research into personalized learning  and application of such approaches, 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.