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Howard Hall and David Cole

15% increase in top class university degrees

A recent trial found that the use of student engagement analytics software is a large part of this improvement

Posted by Charley Rogers | September 17, 2017 | Higher education

An education technology business is set to revolutionise the way universities are able to harness their student data after a three-year trial of its pioneering analysis and monitoring software. The pilot project at Nottingham Trent University has demonstrated marked improvements in students’ academic performance, with over 15% more of their students now achieving 2:1 and first class degrees.

Solutionpath, founded in 2012 and with offices in Leeds, London and Manchester, has developed a software product called StREAM which measures and analyses student ‘engagement’, accurately identifying students who are at risk of early withdrawal from their course, or of under-achieving academically.

The company’s sophisticated analytics software monitors and assesses digital interactions logged each time a student ‘engages’ with the university by carrying out day-to-day activities such as using the library or attending a lecture, alongside data on academic progress. The resulting analytics enable universities to identify students at academic risk at a much earlier stage so that staff can intervene and offer the help and support required.

Solutionpath has been working with Nottingham Trent University for the past three years, trialling and developing the system with undergraduates. The software is particularly valuable in the first year of students’ degree courses, one of the most common times for problems to arise as young people make the transition from school to university.

While the analytics that StREAM delivers are highly complex, as the trial with Nottingham Trent has shown, the benefits for both students and universities of using big data in this way are beautifully simple. - Howard Hall, CEO, Solutionpath

David Woolley, head of schools, colleges and community outreach at Nottingham Trent University, said: “There’s a very clear association between students using the StREAM software, and their academic success, particularly when compared to their peers who were not using it.

“We saw some impressive results: in 2015-16 over 65% of students who used the software achieved a 2:1 or first class degree compared to just under 50% of students who did not use StREAM. Students who used it more often were even more successful, with 72% of those who logged in ten or more times scoring a 2:1 or first.”

Howard Hall, CEO and co-founder of Solutionpath, said: “While the analytics that StREAM delivers are highly complex, as the trial with Nottingham Trent has shown, the benefits for both students and universities of using big data in this way are beautifully simple. Dropping out of university or under-achieving in their degree can be a personal disaster for a young person and extremely worrying for their family, and for the university the loss of course fee revenues involved is significant too.

“Our analytics not only help prevent a student reaching these crisis points where they no longer feel they can continue with their studies, but also help keep students engaged and motivated to achieve the best academic outcomes they can.”

Solutionpath is currently working with 11 universities in the UK and overseas. 

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