Using Real-Time Data to Improve Student Outcomes

Nursing and health professions faculty often observe student behaviors in class, lab, and clinical that provide clues as to how well (or how poorly) they will perform at the end of the course. Unfortunately, because of a lack of “real-time” data, these faculty predictions may be wrong — or, at the very least, incomplete. Not only does this limit the amount of help that faculty could offer students, it also allows students to disregard any advice faculty might give, believing that they can study enough before the end of the semester to ”pull up their grade.”

“Real-time” data that provides an immediate overview of a student’s progress can change the course of the educational experience for both students and faculty. Consider a student enrolled in a beginning clinical course. The student attends all classes, labs, and clinical experiences for the first 6 weeks. She is quiet in class, never asks questions, and often appears detached from learning activities. She seems hesitant in lab and clinical experiences. The instructor is concerned about the student’s apparent lack of engagement, but when he counsels the student, she says that she is nervous about the clinical aspects of the course, but believes she is keeping up with her reading. “I am just shy in class,” she explains.

In the past, when faced with such a situation, faculty had to wait until the first exam — or perhaps longer — to collect sufficient evidence to validate the student’s strengths and weaknesses. Today, when Sherpath is integrated into the curriculum, faculty can monitor student progress in reading assignments, case studies, quizzes, and tests from the first week of class forward via an easy-to-read dashboard. This week-to-week assessment allows faculty to devise remediation strategies to shore up student performance before they slip behind. Equally important, students are also able to see the areas in which they need work, fostering personal accountability. The availability of frequent, accurate data from Sherpath can change the educational trajectory for students and support early and effective interventions for successful outcomes — truly a game changer!

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Dr. Susan Sportsman,