Forecast student success app now offers pointers for succeeding in individual courses

With the kickoff of every semester, faculty members around campus can be heard offering students the same kinds of friendly advice. Skipping class? Bad idea. Perusing your Twitter feed and surfing the web even when you show up? Likewise.

Graph showing class attendance effects on grades.
Graph from the Forecast course module showing the historical effect of attendance on grades in a course.

Now, students can get a graphic picture of just what such behavior may mean for their academic standing, overall and in individual classes, by using the latest version of Forecast, a Purdue-developed student success web application.

Forecast aggregates and analyzes University data to point students to behavioral changes within their control that correlate strongly with academic success, potentially improving their grades and speeding their graduation, as well as helping them learn more.

The new course module in Forecast shifts the focus to behaviors at the class level. For now, students can track their absences and network activity in classes where these behaviors are strongly correlated with success.

They also can get an assessment of the “challenge level” they face, in individual classes and from their entire class schedule in a given semester, along with guidance on ways to help meet those challenges. Other modules will be added as Forecast matures.

“Instructors routinely preach the importance of class attendance and participation, but Forecast gives students a view, backed by historical data, of the very real consequences when they don’t do those things,” says Brent Drake, Purdue’s chief data officer in the Office of Institutional Research, Assessment and Effectiveness. “It reinforces what faculty members always tell students: be in class and pay attention.”

Forecast rolled out during the fall semester, including a presentation to the University Senate by Steve Beaudoin, chemical engineering professor and academic director for ITaP Teaching and Learning Technologies. In all, 6,700 students logged into the Forecast website and nearly 2,900 accessed it repeatedly after it became available Aug. 1.

With the new course module, the system covers six behaviors found to correlate with graduating in four years. The other behaviors are initially registering for and then adding classes on time, being engaged in campus activities, having a realistic schedule, and comparing your GPA to peers in your field.

Each module can pull data about an individual student and display it back to them — and only them — in an easily digestible way with charts and graphs, clear messages of encouragement and a list of academic and other resources to help them improve. The advice comes from analyzing thousands of data points about Purdue, its students and academic programs to identify behaviors that successful students exhibit.

The University already collects the data used in Forecast to operate Purdue, so it was a natural progression to use it to benefit students once data analytics technology made that possible. (Purdue is bound by federal law not to release an individual student’s data to anyone but that student. The data used in and generated by Forecast is likewise restricted.)

To learn more about Forecast, visit purdue.edu/forecast.

Writer:  Greg Kline, IT communications manager, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), 765-494-8167, gkline@purdue.edu

Last updated: January 3, 2017

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