Software predicts who’ll pass the class

Learning analytics software recommends courses and predicts grades at Austin Peay State University in Texas, reports Inside Higher Ed.

Tristan Denley, the provost, has built software, called Degree Compass, that analyzes an individual student’s academic record, along with the past grades of hundreds of Austin Peay State students in various courses, and predicts how well a particular student is likely to do in a particular course long before the first day of class. That includes first-year students; the software draws on their high school transcripts and standardized test scores.

. . . The Degree Compass software, which the university developed with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, combines the predicted grade score with other factors, including how many unsatisfied degree requirements both general and major-specific the course would fulfill for that student. Then it produces a star rating for how well-matched the student is with the course.

In its first trial, Degree Compass predicted with 90 percent accuracy whether a student would earn a C or higher in any given course.

Course Signals, which was developed at Purdue, and Rio Salado Community College use analytics to warn when a student is having trouble with a course but don’t predict how well they’ll do before they start.

Students are not required to follow the Degree Compass’s recommendations; faculty see the recommendations prior to meeting with their advisees about course registration, and the verdicts are “part of the advising conversation,” Denley says. . .  “We’ve got a pretty strong assurance that we’re able to steer students toward courses they will be successful in,” he says, “better than they’re able to steer themselves.”

Austin Peay State is extending its pilot program to Nashville State Community College, Volunteer State Community College and the University of Memphis next fall.