American PSE institutions use big data to measure instructor impact on student engagement

March 28, 2014

US-based Civitas Learning is working with PSE institutions to use big data as a way of measuring the impact of faculty on student engagement. For-profit PSE chain Strayer University uses Civitas to evaluate instructors throughout a course by evaluating students’ “rate of change” in student engagement, which includes measures such as how often students contribute in class, or performance on homework assignments. “If instructors lag behind their peers in making progress with those indicators, the university reaches out to help get those faculty members back on track,” explains Strayer CEO Karl McDonnell. The idea of using big data to measure instructor impact on student engagement has generated controversy among some PSE stakeholders. American Association of University Professors President Rudy Fichtenbaum says he’s skeptical about the idea because “many factors influencing student engagement are out of faculty members' control, such as distractions students face outside the classroom.” Inside Higher Ed