Educational big data, also known as learning analytics, are innovating higher education’s approach to measuring student and organizational success. The power of analytics lies in their ability to illuminate previously unseen trends through real-time, tailored feedback from large and varied datasets. Analytics-based learning management systems, like Moodle, Blackboard LearnUltra and advising management systems (also known as early-alert systems) like Starfish by Hobsons and Student Success Collaborative, have shown promise in positively contributing to student learning, retention, and completion rates. As a result, these tools are being purchased and deployed at exponential rates across institutional types to improve student and organizational performance. However, the nature of analytics data and algorithms and the ways in which analytics data can be culled, repurposed, and reused requires a revised approach to data governance, protection and use. The purpose of this brown bag is to discuss the types of analytics present in higher education, evidence of their efficacy, barriers and incentives related to their deployment and use, and associated policy, privacy, and ethical considerations.
Carrie Klein is a doctoral candidate in the Higher Education Program at George Mason University, holding a M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from George Mason, with a concentration in Higher Education Administration, and a dual B.A. in Anthropology and Classics from The University of Arizona. She has worked with Dr. Jaime Lester, of George Mason, on a number of projects, including two National Science Foundation grants focused on big data in higher education and communities of transformation in STEM pedagogy and curriculum reform. Carrie also collaborates with Dr. Hironao Okahana, of the Council of Graduate Schools, on STEM pipeline and access issues for historically underrepresented students and with Dr. Michael Brown, of Iowa State University, on ethical learning analytics policies and practices.
Her research interests include better understanding the influences of analytics on higher education organizational decision-making, STEM education and access, and the interactions between higher education organizations and external stakeholders. She has presented research papers at multiple conferences and written multiple papers and book chapters. Her master’s thesis, a qualitative instrumental study on collaboration across organizational cultural differences on campus, won the 2014 ACPA Gerald Saddlemire Masters Research Award. Carrie currently serves as the AERA Division J& Senior Graduate Representative.