How do big data and analytics generate value for higher education?

Among the historic data that the education tech companies analyze are SAT and ACT scores; personal and demographic information; courses that students are taking and grades they are getting; and behaviors like how frequently they are seeing advisers and tutors and how actively they are engaging in the campus networks where professors post homework assignments, lecture notes, comments and grades.

My Nine 'Truths' of Data Analysis - Education Week

Understanding How Modern Education Data Analysis Keeps you Competitive
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How data and analytics can improve education - O'Reilly Media

Although many of the goals of an educational experience cannot be easily measured, data-intensive research and analysis in higher education can help us improve, control, and understand those goals that can be measured. The breadth and depth of the data now available has the potential to fundamentally improve learning. We believe that what is happening with data-intensive research and analysis today is comparable to the inventions of the microscope and the telescope. Both of these devices revealed new types of data that had always been present but never before accessible. We now have the equivalent of the microscope and the telescope for understanding teaching and learning in powerful ways.

Data Analysis | Graduate School of Education

With this shift we have, for the first time, data about virtually all aspects of students' skills, including the complex abilities that higher education attempts to foster—abilities that, in the modern economy, are more important than simple factual knowledge.19 We have the potential to assess postsecondary learners in ways that can improve depth, frequency, and response time, possibly expanding the scope with which students and instructors can monitor learning, including assessment of higher-level skills, and proving personalized feedback based on those assessments. However, the tools for understanding this data (e.g., edX ORA, Insights, EASE, and Discern) are still in their infancy. The grand challenge in data-intensive research and analysis in higher education is to find the means to extract such knowledge from the extremely rich data sets being generated today and to integrate these understandings into a coherent picture of our students, campuses, instructors, and curricular designs.

CDE uses data to analyze student performance and inform educational improvements at the policy, state board and classroom level.
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There's incredible potential for data analytics to impact education.

Here you’ll find reports on Science, Engineering and Technology, some of which go beyond education into Research and Development, Workforce and Social Dimensions. A list of the surveys upon which most of these reports are based (such as the Survey of Earned Doctorates) includes descriptors and, in some cases, access to statistical tables or more extensive data for analysis.

Priority Area: Data and Analysis | Education Pioneers

Some experts have voiced concern that the large amounts of student data collected could be used for profiling. But Ellen Wagner, a researcher who has studied predictive analytics in education, said it would be hard to help the students without first identifying their problems.


Big data describes data sets so large and complex that they become awkward to work with using standard statistical software. Schools, districts and college and universities collect and store vast amounts of education data about students, instructors, courses, assessments, and facilities . The real value of the data is in analyzing and making use of it, not in gathering and storing it. But few use the information effectively to make informed decisions that could enhance teaching and learning, and improve student success and financial efficiencies. After all, what good is collecting the data if it’s not used effectively?