University Of Arizona ID Tracker: Full Story & Must-See Details

In a new move to track which students might be dropping out of the school, the University of Arizona is tracking freshman students’ ID card swipes, hoping to use the data to lower dropout rates.

How will tracking student ID cards help keep students in school?

USing the card data, researchers can tell how frequently a student enters a residence hall, library, and the student recreation center, which includes a salon, convenience store, mail room, and movie theater. It also needs to be used for vending machines on campus. Ultimately, there are believed to be around 700 locations on campus that use the card.
According to a press release, Sudha Ram, a professor of management information systems who directs the tracking system, issued the following statement:

“By getting their digital traces, you can explore their patterns of movement, behavior and interactions, and that tells you a great deal about them.”
“We think by doing these interventions by the 12th week, which is when students make up their mind, you’re sort of doing what Amazon does—delivering items you didn’t order but will be ordering in the future.”

Over the past three years, the researchers found that predictions they made about drop-outs has a 73% accuracy rate and they plan to use the information to help academic advisers with an online dashboard.


Does it work to help keep students in school?

According to the data, students without a stable behavior pattern or strong social circles are more likely to drop out of the school; reportedly, the university creates lists every quarter of freshman students most likely to drop out, sharing them with advisers.
According to The Verge, Angela Baldasare, assistant provost for institutional research at the university, explained that this information is collected from students early on:

“As early as the first day of classes, even for freshmen, these predictive analytics are creating highly accurate indicators that inform what we do to support students in our programs and practice.”

For 2017, the school’s retention rates rose to 86.5% for residents and almost 89% for international students, with the national average at 78%, according to most recent numbers.
There are some caveats to the system; in addition to the controversy over students’ privacy being violated, Ram also pointed out that the system could give out information, while correct, that could cause generalizations:

“We live in an era where you shouldn’t be generalizing about ‘groups of people. You should be personalizing solutions at the individual level.”

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