USING DATA AND DASHBOARDS TO DRIVE CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT FOR WIDENING ACCESS AND PARTICIPATION OBJECTIVES
Ulster University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 14th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 8-9 November, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:Ulster University is a Regional University with values that seek to advance society in Northern Ireland. Educational attainment and widening access are key priorities within our 5-and-50 strategic plan (2016-2034). A key remit of the Widening Access and Participation (WAP) Policy and Research Unit is to ensure that the University meets its statutory obligations regarding WAP and supports our diverse student population.
Each academic year a range of interactive dashboards are designed using all available internal and external data to help stakeholders to make data-informed WAP decisions and improve practice for WAP objectives. Every year efforts are made to improve the data processes that is used.
This year as a result of COVID we have had to find new sources of information and new ways of connecting data to allow to understand the information we need to support our students in different ways and to help us better understand them and their progress. We have introduced new support funds and widening access criteria in an effort to support more students who are in need of assistance. A new Business Intelligence Collaborative Forum has been established in an effort to further improve communication, coordination and collaboration and help us identify risks and opportunities.
This paper will demonstrate the WAP criteria Ulster University applies and the range of data that it is using to help us better understand our students needs and to them provide timely and effective support mechanisms. We have had to adapt many approaches during the COVID-19 crisis and data has been helping us make key decisions.
Each year dashboards are updated and new ones created using new data sources and agile approaches to support business needs on demand. A collaborative and partnership approach is adopted, to understand the data needs of stakeholders.
This paper will share practice and will showcase a range of new interactive WAP dashboards which have been created at Ulster this past year by connecting available internal and external data sources.
It will consider key design challenges, new COVID-19 related challenges, opportunities to support student success further and lessons learned during a challenging COVID-impacted year. It will also share plans for the next stages of data development at Ulster and will illustrate some new demands for geographical data in response to COVID-19, such as travel time to/fro campus, technology needs, caring responsibility etc.
Ulster University’s main goal when designing dashboards is to guide educational interventions that supports students and maximises their success, ultimately resulting in learning gain. A range of WAP data has now been connected and displayed visually with interactive filters, to help staff better support students throughout their learner journey from pre-entry, through their studies at Ulster and into employment.
Keywords: Continuous Improvement, Widening Access and Participation, data informed decision making, interactive dashboards.