The University of Arizona tracked students' ID card swipes to predict who would drop out
In 2015, the University of Arizona began tracking freshman students’ ID card swipes as part of a project to try to lower the rate at which students drop out or leave for another university. The cards, which include an embedded sensor and are given to all students, can be read at almost 700 locations, including the entrance to residence halls and the student recreation centre, the library, and vending machines. The published policy for the CatCard student IDs does not disclose the practice.
In a separate but related research effort, six times a year the university uses a set of 800 data points to create lists of the freshmen most likely to leave and shares it with staff in the hope of identifying the students who may need more support from advisors in order to stay. As a result, the University of Arizona's retention rate rose in 2017 to 86.5% for in-state students and almost 89% for international students, compared to the national average of 78%. The researchers managing the project say that the first three years of data have been 73% accurate in predicting who is most likely to drop out.
Writer: Melanie Ehrenkranz