Forget Predictive Analytics: We’re Learning From Experience

Performance prediction is all the rage in higher education. Testing agencies, researchers, and software vendors all promise to “predict” student outcomes. Some find this prospect alarming, imagining that predictions might determine a student’s fate, or somehow restrict their potential. It’s all a little less scary if we take a step back and think about what…

Thoughts on the Transcript of the Future

An academic transcript – the infamous permanent record – looms over the life of every college student. Items recorded there play an outsize role in shaping the student experience. By auditing degree requirements and counting up accumulated credit hours, transcripts guide course selection. By calculating grade point average to the third decimal place, transcripts help…

Fairness in higher education: what goes wrong, how can we tell?

Educational institutions like the University of Michigan are, on the surface at least, deeply committed to fairness. This commitment is often tested: any time we select students for admission, evaluate their work for grades, or decide who to honor. Although the commitment is simple, living up to it is not. Creating an educational system that…

Grades are Worn Out

Grades are important. Instructors structure their courses around deciding them; students expend enormous effort pursuing them; they form the only record of student performance every University feels obligated to retain. They’re also consequential. Grades provide students with their primary performance feedback, threshold course passage and the award of diplomas, and are combined to rank students…