PATHWAYS TO ACADEMIC SUCCESS: USING (PRETTY) BIG DATA TO EXPLORE CHANGING PATHWAYS TO GRADUATION AT THE PROGRAMMATIC LEVEL
Using the academic records of 759 students who enrolled in the B.S. of Geology major at Texas A&M from 1993 to the present, we have characterized the dominant pathways to a degree, the relative academic outcomes associated with the different pathways, and the important barriers to academic success using survival analysis. Survival analysis is a statistical technique that characterizes the distribution of discrete-time event occurrence of hazard and survivor functions of the academic records of transfer and native students, defined as students who start at and graduate from the same school.
We used the longitudinal analysis of student transcripts to determine the points in our degree program where students commonly transfer or experience academic performance issues. Of particular interest is how the results of the analysis can be used to define barrier courses for geology students as well as specific points within the degree where targeted advising and mentoring may be particularly effective in supporting student retention. The analysis, although performed for TAMU, can be customized for any individual institution.