Strategic Data Use in Higher Education: Using Data to Improve Postsecondary Success

  • Post category:Findings

“We strongly believe that using data to better understand our students and our own operations paves the way to developing new, innovative approaches for improved student recruiting, better student outcomes, greater institutional efficiency and cost-containment, and much more.”

The Strategic Data Project (SDP) at the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University has a ten-year track record of developing data capacity in state and local PK-12 agencies and organizations and interviewed 40 leaders and analysts at 29 institutions of higher education and postsecondary organizations to explore their data needs to understand why some colleges and university systems are excelling in using data and others have yet to fully realize the potential of their data to inform strategic decisions that transform student success in school and the workforce.

Our key finding is that the missing link is not in the technical infrastructure but in human capacity. If higher education is to take advantage of data analytics to improve student outcomes and increase organizational effectiveness, it will have to find better ways to attract, train, and retain strategic data professionals who can inform policy and practice.


Recent study on student clickstream data

  • Post category:Findings

The benefits and caveats of using clickstream data to understand student self-regulatory behaviors: opening the black box of learning processes

By automatically recording students’ interactions with online course materials, clickstream data provide a valuable new source of information on student learning behaviors. These data can be used to define and identify behavioral patterns that are related to student learning outcomes, suggest behavioral changes to students for greater success, and provide insights regarding the mechanisms by which education interventions affect student outcomes.

Baker, R., Xu, D., Park, J. et al. The benefits and caveats of using clickstream data to understand student self-regulatory behaviors: opening the black box of learning processes. Int J Educ Technol High Educ 17, 13 (2020).

(I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Baker last week about U.S. education metrics & policy. What a dedicated person and professor.)

Mathematics, Mystery, and the Universe

  • Post category:Findings

Astrophysicist Mario Livio speaks to the heart of mathematics in this episode of On Being.

Together with Krista Tippett, he discusses the idea that mathematics has a reality and truth about it that may even be greater than the reality and truth of human perception or the physical world that it is measuring or describing and the closest thing science has to eternal truths.