GOOD NEWS FIRST: Using data to predict future events, commonly referred to as predictive analytics, has valuable applications for higher ed. But the practice also raises ethical concerns, according to a paper published this week from the New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
Report authors Manuela Ekowo and Iris Palmer write that predictive analytics can have a positive impact by helping identify and support students who are at risk of dropping out. These models might also produce discriminatory results because they include demographic data that can mirror past bias. “Profiling students could mean inhibiting or discouraging capable students from developing their talents or pursuing their interests,” the authors write.