The Role of Analytics in Higher Education
Higher education institutions are increasingly accumulating a significant amount of data on students, teachers, facilities and curricula (Bichsel, 2012; Gantz & Reinsel, 2012, Siemens & Long, 2011). In the last decade, analytics has become an important area of research within the educational technology area. This research presents a current conception of analytics and its possible contribution to better support decision-making and possible challenges relating to the deployment of analytics in the higher education sector in New Zealand. Seven research-intensive public universities in New Zealand participated in a survey. Respondents were recruited from institutional senior management responsible for executing operational and strategic initiatives, as well as individuals whose portfolios are related to the management of data and analytics (n=82). The study found inconsistent understanding of the meaning of analytics across respondents. In particular, three forms of conception of analytics were identified: structural, functional and structural-functional. These kinds of conception have, to a larger extent, influenced respondents’ views on the value of analytics in shaping policy and practice. Also, respondents mentioned some challenges related to institutional uptake and implementation of analytics in higher education. These challenges were: difficulties in extracting data from multiple databases, maintaining data quality, ethical and privacy issues, and lack of professional development opportunities. In addition, surprising findings revealed that across institutions, universities in New Zealand see the potential use of analytics in such areas as student services support and institutional research administration. Respondents also saw potential in building institutional capability in analytics to manage performance. Overall, the research found that the higher education sector in New Zealand primarily views the potential use of analytics in monitoring, performance, and in the extraction of transactional data from siloed database systems that can be used to examine learning and teaching environments. Respondents widely acknowledged the potential role of analytics in supporting institutions to meet their strategic objectives. This study broadly contributed to a better understanding of the current conception and value of analytics in higher education, and in particular within the New Zealand context. Also, the current study contributes to our overall understanding of how higher education institutions engage with analytics to support various initiatives. Furthermore, the research presents the overall place regarding the use of analytics in higher education within the New Zealand context.
Advisor: Daniel , Ben; Butson, Russell; Mallan, Vijay
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Higher Education Development Centre
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Analytics; Big Data; Higher Education Institutions; Conception
Research Type: Thesis