Utilizing Student Data to Inform Classroom Pedagogy

April 3, 2021
  • AACRAO Annual Meeting
  • Comprehensive Record
  • am2021
  • Comprehensive Student Record
White background displaying the text "utilizing student data to inform classroom pedagogy" with a circular headshot of Alexander Taylor and Rodney Parks off to the side

AACRAO Annual Meeting 2021 Session: Utilizing Student Data to Inform Classroom Pedagogy

Alexander Taylor, Assistant Registrar of Communications, and Rodney Parks, University Registrar & Assistant Vice President, both serving at Elon University, discussed the rich importance of relationship building between students and faculty. They also discussed the viability of using available technology and data to increase student engagement and retention.


As a result of COVID-19, distance learning has become a part of the student experience. Mr. Taylor and Mr. Parks believe that creating, and utilizing technology can help foster a richer learning experience for students and increase student retention.

Faculty Interactions and Research

Throughout the session, the presenters emphasized the overwhelming amount of research that shows that student-faculty interaction generally leads to positive student outcomes, including retention.

Referencing research from a 2014 Gallup-Purdue study that found students who felt emotional support led to higher levels of engagement. Also referenced was a study from George Kuh and NSSE (2015) which found that faculty-student interactions led to a more enriching experience for students.

COVID-19 Impact on Institutions and Students

Student retention and teaching modalities were severely impacted by the necessity of suspending in-person classes at most higher education institutions. Many institutions were unprepared for the sudden shift to online platforms and many faculty members were inexperienced in using these platforms. During this time 48% of students reported that they would likely defer their enrollment or look for a different school if their institution transitioned to remote learning. 

The impact on student well-being was even more pronounced with 71% reporting heightened levels of stress and anxiety, only 23% reporting confidence in receiving a quality education remotely, and only 19% of students felt that the could build relationships in a remote environment.

Comprehensive Learner Profile at Elon University

To help faculty members understand their students Elon University created a comprehensive learner profile platform. This platform houses a vast array of information about students including:

  • Course Load

  • Class Year

  • Region

  • Demographics

  • Cumulative GPA

  • Programs

  • Majors, Minors, and Specializations

  • Experiences

All of this data is presented as anonymous to faculty members in an effort to give them a better picture of their incoming classes and to understand where they can tailor their course material to better fit the students they are serving. Highlighted in the session was the emphasis on understanding student’s past experiences and deepening the relationship between students and faculty.

In closing the session Mr. Parks and Mr. Taylor suggested that while this approach is still being tested, and may not be a good fit for every higher education institution, it is another tool that can be used to help increase retention and create a better experience for students.

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