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July 2014

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Predictive Analytics and a Personalized Approach Promote Student Success in Higher Education

Promoting student success in higher education is a goal all higher education institutions share. But predictors of success as well as risk factors for students vary drastically for liberal arts students as compared to engineering students or among community colleges as compared to four-year institutions, according to Joe Burkhart, Oracle director of higher education solutions. "The key is having predictive analytics to identify success factors and the ability to personalize analyses according to each type of student, program, and institution," he says.

In the following interview, Burkhart discusses the keys to understanding student success and the latest resources available from Oracle to help schools achieve better outcomes.

Q: What should administrators consider as they evaluate technologies to help them better understand and promote student success?
A: First, they must understand that there are multiple definitions of student success. It may be a focus on performance within a single classroom or the progression of students from one term to the next, and these drivers will change over time as the institution and student expectations evolve. Or it may address graduation rates or how successful graduates are at getting jobs. With this diversity in mind, administrators should look for technologies that aren't designed to deliver prefabricated content. A better approach is a reference architecture that can close gaps in an institution's existing environment while recognizing that there are differences across various types of students, schools, and programs.

Q: What are the latest tools Oracle offers in this area?
A: Oracle offers an industry solution that brings together a group of technologies to address student success using the power of predictive analytics. Specifically, the solution gives schools analysis tools that mine multiple sources of information. These sources can include student information systems, such as Oracle's PeopleSoft Campus Solutions, as well as other types of resources, such as student activity and parking systems. Together, each of these areas may highlight variables that help predict student success or identify risk factors.

Q: What happens if the analytics identify a student who is at risk of failing?
A: If it's something minor, educators may utilize communication tools within the Oracle solution to tell a student what resources are available to help. If the risk is more severe, the solution can identify the proper academic advisor or intervention counselor to reach out to the student.

Q: You mentioned data from student activity systems is part of the mix. What value does it offer for predicting student success?
A: One school we work with found a high correlation between eating meals on campus and using recreational facilities with success rates. The data can help show whether a student is regularly on campus and has a personal connection to the institution.

Q: What are some of the Oracle products that are a part of this solution package?
A: On the data mining side, there is Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, which allows an institution to find specific variables that have a strong predictive quality for either success or failure. Then Oracle Advanced Analytics provides predictive analytics to identify in real time whether any of that these variables have been tripped. It runs inside Oracle Database to constantly monitor behaviors and sends notifications to Oracle Service Cloud.

This solution package includes tracking, a knowledge base, communication plans, and outreach capabilities to support students when they're at risk.

All of these capabilities integrate with PeopleSoft Interaction Hub or PeopleSoft Campus Solutions to actually push out relevant content to students when they sign in. PeopleSoft Campus Solutions is a significant source of information for the student data that gets mined to identify trends and variables.

Q: Oracle recently announced Oracle Student Cloud. What role will this play in student success?
A: The new Oracle Student Cloud will focus on improving the student experience to help make sure that students are successful. A new release of Oracle Student Cloud with continuing-education functionality is slated to be released some time next year.

Learn more about Oracle Student Cloud and Oracle's full portfolio of solutions for education and research.

This content is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for Oracle's products remains at the sole discretion of Oracle.

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