The JISC funded Southampton Student Dashboard Project at the University of Southampton has been aggregating data from across a number of systems and presenting it in a single place, so that pastoral tutors can provide better informed support for students.
Data held by institutions is not always easy to access. For example:
- data held across a number of systems only offers a partial or disjointed view of information that may be relevant to staff and students
- multiple systems require multiple log-ins; for example, Student Services at Southampton need to switch between four different applications in order to amalgamate student information
- selecting the data that tutors might need to see on a dashboard can be contentious; for example information from Finance or Student Counselling services.
In common with other projects that have focussed on using data to identify “at risk” students, the project team identified the following benefits:
- providing a complete view of an institution’s student data enables staff to identify any early signs of problems and possible non-progression
- improving access to data can encourage the organisational culture to be more innovative and transparent
- by allowing a small set of data to be shown to pastoral tutors, it is expected that this will generate requests for more data to be included.
Encouraging people to open up access to data can be challenging. Issues of data access and organisational culture can be difficult to handle, so try to:
- manage change carefully to ensure that all stakeholders are engaged, especially those who have power to implement change and those who have influence over opinion in the institution
- identify champions in each group of stakeholders, who will help drive through changes
- find out what data is held by each stakeholder and how it is accessed (some of it may be paper-based) as this can help determine how that data could be accessed in a dashboard; it can also expose information that some stakeholders didn’t even know existed.
If you would like to find out more about this project, the following resources may help: