Predictive Analytics: A Powerful Education and Business Tool

shutterstock_46846486Predictive analytics has become a valuable tool for universities and colleges to predict how successful a student might be. This information is used to create strategies designed to increase and support student success. Using similar predictive analytics and strategies businesses can increase the value and success of their TAP programs.

Educause defines predictive analytics as finding “relationships and patterns within large volumes of data that can be used to predict behavior and events.” (Eduventures_Predictive_Analytics_White_Paper1.pdf). For colleges and universities this data includes factors such as high school grades, family financial status, grades in first semester classes, study skills and time management, and involvement in campus activities.

University Innovation Alliance is at the forefront of using predictive analytics to promote student success. The University Innovation Alliance is 11 research universities that are collaborating to find effective innovations, strategies, and best practices to increase student success. The Alliance serves large numbers of first-generation and low-income students, the groups that are most behind in educational achievement. Because of this says that it is “at the forefront of America’s race to regain its educational edge and increase economic opportunity and mobility.”

Analytics and Interventions

Three examples show Alliance members using analytics and interventions to support students. (http://www.theuia.org/sites/default/files/UIA_predictive_onepagers.pdf)
• Georgia State University “increased semester to semester retention rates by 5 percent and reduced time to degree for graduating students by almost half a semester.”
• Arizona State University eAdvisor helps students identify majors related to their interests which reduces the number of exploratory courses, map their degree path, and track their progress. This has resulted in dramatic improvements in persistence and graduation rates. The 2009 cohort has a graduation rate that is 12 percentage points higher than before using eAdvisor.
• University of Texas at Austin started The University Leadership Network in 2013-2014, using 14 different data points to identify incoming students who might need additional support and could benefit from support programs. Students receive academic and financial support and help in developing leadership skills.

The success of the Alliance collaboration, use of predictive analytics and successful interventions is relevant to the US economy. When higher education institutions don’t produce enough graduates the economy doesn’t grow as it could. In 2008, McKinsey & Company reported that the achievement gap meant a GDP loss of $1.3 – $2.3 trillion. “American workers are, on average, less able to develop, master and adapt to new productivity-enhancing technologies” they reported. (http://www.theuia.org/sites/default/files/UIA-Vision-Prospectus.pdf)
US businesses are in a position to help in the US regain its educational edge and increase economic opportunity. With predictive analytics businesses can use their Tuition Assistance Programs strategically.

Succession and Talent Pipeline

Succession plans and talent pipeline plans ensure growth and success. Using predictive analytics to consider data points such as business goals, market growth and employee attrition, employers can determine which positions need to be filled. These are the positions that are vital to keep the business functioning. These are the positions that will be vacated as Baby Boomers retire. These are the positions that require knowledge of new technologies and new skills.

Business can also analyze which employees to train. It is more efficient to move current employees into new roles than hire new employees. Their familiarity with the business culture and goals makes a transition less disruptive. “From a succession standpoint, training fosters the next generation of leaders with skills critical to the institution’s specific operations. It ensures there’s always someone more than competent to step into a vacated role.” (http://go.cornerstoneondemand.com/rs/sonar6/images/CSOD_Simple_Guide_to_Succession_Planning-Part 1_HEd.pdf)

There is an exponential effect to encouraging and promoting employees’ use of TAP benefits. One individual’s success could encourage other employees. Employees who continue their education and are supported by a TAP program, feel valued by their employer. This can raise the level of commitment to their employer, to other employees, and to business goals resulting in business growth.

Bridget Burns, Michael Crow and Mark Becker of UIA address this collaboration phenomenon. “Collaboration spurs innovation because bringing together groups of people who have different ideas, approaches, experiences and areas of expertise creates a fertile environment for generating new concepts and methods. Sharing insights allows ideas to be refined and improved. Charging a group with developing a promising idea incentivizes the group – not just a single individual – to commit to its success and paves the way for trusted collaboration.” (http://www.theuia.org/blog/post/innovating-together-collaboration-driving-force-improve-student-success)

Strategic use of a Tuition Administration Program creates successful businesses and employees. “Improved performance through skill development confers a variety of benefits—improved individual and team performance, reduction of risk, and increased efficiency and effectiveness around achieving institutional goals.” (http://go.cornerstoneondemand.com/rs/sonar6/images/CSOD_Simple_Guide_to_Succession_Planning-Part3_HEd.pdf.)