How ORU Used Learning Analytics to Improve Student Retention

  • 3 Min Read

“Professors don’t want their students to fail. If analytics and predictive modeling can help give our instructors back one more hour a week that they can devote to helping more students succeed, then I’d say we’ve done our job.” – Dr. Kenneth Berchenbriter, Systems Analyst, Oral Roberts University

One of the first things you notice about Oral Roberts University (ORU) is the institution’s dedication to improving the student experience. The university is always looking for innovative ways to increase the student’s opportunity for success. In particular, ORU is breaking new ground with its application of learning data and analytics to bolster student retention.

Michael Mathews, CIO at Oral Roberts University, talked to us about the importance of student retention to the institution. He explained, “first, there’s the issue of lost revenue. Then there’s the issue of lost credibility, which starts to impact the institution’s ability to recruit. As costs rise, institutions that cannot keep their population high enough will shut down. That’s why the focus on retention is so great.”

With a clear view of the challenge, ORU needed the right strategy and tools to improve student retention and maintain its competitive edge. Like many innovative universities, ORU believed learning data and analytics, if properly harnessed, could help bolster student success and ultimately retention. Though the university had been capturing data for some time, Mathews and team needed to find a meaningful way to present it to faculty to provide a complete picture of the student experience. ORU were confident that with the right data presented to faculty at the right time they could identify at-risk students earlier, proactively intervene, and ultimately help students be more successful.

ORU implemented the Brightspace Advanced Analytics solution to support its student retention initiative and saw results quickly. Within one month, ORU was already retrieving useful student data and presenting it to faculty in a pragmatic way. Teachers were able to be more proactive in tracking student performance and as a result, engaged with students armed with a clearer picture of their strengths and challenges. According to Mathews, the university has already seen its retention rate increase from 61% to 75.5% just by having accurate information at hand.

If you want to learn how you can use learning analytics to make a positive impact on your institution’s retention rates, check out the new report by the Center for Digital Education  — Download the Big Data in Education Report

 

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