Big Data at Arizona State University

One of the most interesting uses of Big Data on college campuses is at Arizona State University, which is the largest University in the country based off total students. Arizona State University uses big data to help ensure students stay on course academically and graduate in 4-years.

Arizona State University monitors how well students are doing in their majors – keeping very close records of all their students. At first, if students fail classes or struggle in classes, they are issued a warning saying the should be careful. If this trend continues, students are told that they need to meet with their ‘eAdvisor’ to reconsider their major. ASU officials believe that this system will help get students out of the door more efficiently in a day and age where 4-year graduation rates country wide are under 50%.

Another study being done at a close by community college – carried out by an ASU undergraduate student – has found a way to predict student performance in classes with 70% accuracy.

With this, comes many issues for colleges to consider. If colleges know students are doing poorly in a field that they chose to study, or know students can’t handle a certain major, should they steer students away from the challenge? By introducing this rigid structure, is ASU taking away academic exploration from its students? One professor at the University argues that systems like these almost make colleges like e-Harmony – connecting students with classes that match up with them and closing off their options.

This article was interesting to me as it talked about how big data is being used unconventionally in education. Feel free to read the full NYTimes article here.

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One Response to Big Data at Arizona State University

  1. lzaima says:

    I’m not sure if I agree at all with this “big brother is watching you” data mining philosophy that ASU has taken up. One thing that stands out to me is the Facebook app that suggests friends and the collection of data from ID card swipes. I would not be happy if this type of use of my data existed on campus here at Michigan. Part of going to college is self discovery; These data mining programs are sabotaging a student’s ability to find resolve through their own power and fail to learn how to live as an independent, self sufficient individual. If this system was seamless, it may be less of a big deal. However, if I were an ASU student reading this NYTimes article, I would be less than enthusiastic.

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