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Matching Online Growth with High Achievement

Advances in reporting capabilities have allowed forward-thinking institutions to keep track of their students and better support their learning process.

How can higher education institutions meet the growing demand for online courses while improving student achievement? That question is frequently contemplated at community colleges. Forward-thinking institutions are turning to business intelligence and data to solve that challenge and to increase pass rates, and it seems those listening to the data are among the schools that are experiencing positive results. The Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC) is an example of an institution that has benefitted from the decision to use data to its advantage. In doing so, ICCOC has not only strengthened the performance of the students who are most in need of help, but also has been recognized for its accomplishments by earning a Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) grant.

ICCOC is a partnership of seven community colleges that provide online education to a large demographic of students. The Consortium uses the Pearson LearningStudio learning management system to offer more than 1,000 online course sections to over 20,000 fully-online enrollments each semester.

With escalating enrollments, ICCOC realized in 2005 that an effective data system was necessary, as part of a comprehensive reporting strategy, to manage and sustain growth while maximizing opportunity for student achievement. After some analysis of its programs, ICCOC worked with Pearson to develop reporting tools that would proactively identify at-risk students before they failed or dropped out. These tools included a custom report of student activity data in each course as well as a form located in each course to allow instructors to report at-risk students.

As time passed, enrollments continued to rise and more sophisticated reporting tools became available; therefore, ICCOC chose to implement the Pearson LearningStudio Enterprise Reporting Suite. Enterprise Reporting has allowed ICCOC to warehouse student data, while aggregating detailed levels of course data that shows the time individual students have spent within a specific course as well as the type and amounts of participation within the course. Such student-specific and granular information has helped ICCOC and its partner colleges communicate more effectively with at-risk students. For example, ICCOC partner college staff members are now able to reach out to students who stop submitting assignments or to students whose grades begin to drop below a certain level.

The results? In 2005, prior to the implementation of the Pearson LearningStudio Enterprise Reporting Suite, just 57 percent of at-risk students earned a grade of “C” or better. By 2007 the number had jumped to 66 percent, and to 68 percent by 2010. In 2005, 77 percent of at-risk students completed their courses, compared to 82 percent in 2007 and 85 percent in 2010—an 8 percent overall improvement. This kind of gradual, but sustained growth can be directly attributed to the reporting and identification mechanisms ICCOC has adopted through Pearson’s customized tools and Pearson LearningStudio Enterprise Reporting Suite.

ICCOC is continuing its efforts with the early intervention for at-risk students and its partnership with Pearson today by developing dashboards for instructors, which draw attention to key success indicators. ICCOC is, and continues to be, a testament to the effectiveness of using data as a means to improve student achievement in the long term.

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