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App Predicts Student GPA, Course Grades Before Semester Starts

Demonstrating the potential of analytics to inform student management of their academic careers, the provost at Austin Peay State University has developed an application, Degree Compass, that draws on multiple data sources, both individual to the student as well as across current and past students, to predict a student's semester GPA within 0.2 of a point and his/her GPA within a course to within 0.6 of a point. Furthermore, as reported in Inside Higher Education:

"Perhaps most significantly, from the increasingly salient perspective of degree completion, Degree Compass managed to predict, with 90 percent accuracy, whether a student would get a grade of ‘C’ or higher in any given course."

The article notes that the application incorporates other functions beyond grade prediction to ensure that student and advisor discussions and decisions about course and degree paths are driven by a variety of academic consideratons, as opposed to "funneling students into unchallenging courses." The reported results are based on a trial conducted at the university last fall; that initial success has led to an expansion of the pilot to the University of Memphis as well as two community colleges.