In the long term, and assuming that we get agreement to implement STAR-Trak, we anticipate the following benefits from this project:
– Reduction in non-completion rates and increase in student learning performance
– Reduction in student administration time spent by teaching staff
– The ability to model and undertake scenario analysis using Business Intelligence (BI) applications and the data warehouse cubes (a type of database structure for BI) containing the activity data
– The creation of a longitudinal repository of student activity data that over time might otherwise be lost
– A platform to support harvesting & analysis of data from resource discovery and management tools

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We have had a tremendous reaction to the project from academic and administrative staff. The input has helped us further our understanding of how the application might be used within HEIs to support retention. The strength of STAR-Trak is in facilitating a face-to-face discussion between staff member and student regarding any potential issues around engagement and retention.

User requirements have been elicited by running workshops with key business users. We are in the fortunate position of already having a proof of concept application. Having something to look at makes it far easier for end users to grasp the potential uses for the application and thus come up with requirements. To elicit the final set of requirements the following steps were taken:
1. Requirements from each workshop were captured, reviewed and then transposed into a single spreadsheet.
2. At this point a further review synthesised several requirements, and further detail was added so that the relative effort in implementing each could be assessed.
3. MoSCoW (Must, Should, Could and Would) prioritisation was then applied to the requirements.
4. We then worked down through the prioritised list until we hit the development budget and time limits for the project.

Ideally we would have liked to have a further round of workshops to confirm the requirements. However project timescales and the other commitments of our key business users has meant that we have had to move straight in to the development phase. Risks around this have been mitigated by continuing discussion with users as the detail of requirements is fleshed out.

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Our hypothesis is that by harvesting user activity (usage and attention) data that already resides in existing institutional systems, combining it with demographic information and presenting it in a single portal-type application, we can improve our support services by revealing new information, providing students, tutors and student support officers with a broader picture of a student’s engagement with the University at both an academic and social level.

Furthermore, being able to predict students at risk of dropping out, based on lack of engagement, will enable us to develop targeted personalised interventions appropriate to the type and level of non-engagement, and do so in a more joined-up and timely manner.

We plan to evaluate our hypothesis over three time periods:

INTERIM: Qualitative: Feedback on perceived value from students and staff through focus groups
PILOT: Qualitative / Quantative: Feedback from staff and students on actual value through focus groups; usage statistics
LONG-TERM: Quantative: Analysis of retention rates; NSS scores

At the end of the project we will add to this post, summarising the evidence we have gathered during the project and reflecting on whether we think the hypothesis has been successfully tested.

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Project Plan

Aims, Objectives and Final Outputs of the project
The aim of our project is to test our hypothesis that retention rates and student satisfaction can be improved by facilitating a more informed dialogue between students and staff, based on a rich joined-up picture of a student’s academic and extra-curricular engagement with the University. You can download a pdf copy of the details by clicking here: STAR-Trak NG Aims, Objectives and Final Outputs (opens in new window).

Risk Analysis and Success Plan
Project risks are recorded in the Risk Register, reported to the Project Board and managed on a day to day basis by the project manager. We have taken the wider definition of risk that includes the potential for positive as well as negative outcomes. You can download a pdf copy of the risk register by clicking here: STAR-Trak NG Risk Register (opens in new window).

Our proposal stated that Leeds Metropolitan will be pleased to comply with the IPR requirements of the call. Specifically all outputs would be made available, at no cost, to the JISC community. As it is our hope that the STAR-Trak:NG software will be further developed into a shared service, it will be published in accordance with JISC’s Open Source Software Policy. At the time of publishing, we have no plans to change our intentions with respect to IPR. 

Project Team Relationships and End User Engagement
This section explains who is on the project team and what responsibilities they have, also information on how engagement with end users will be facilitated. You can download a pdf copy of the details by clicking here: STAR-Trak NG Project Team, Relationships and End User Engagement (opens in new window).

Projected Timeline, Workplan & Overall Project Methodology – This section provides information on workpackages, timescales and project methods. You can download a pdf copy of the details by clicking here: Projected Timeline, Workplan & Overall Project Methodology (opens in new window).

This section provides information on the project budget. You can download a pdf copy of the budget by clicking here: STAR-Trak NG Budget (opens in new window).


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