Can past data predict student success? Richard Clark was quoted in a New York Times article about data mining in higher education titled, “Big Data on Campus.”
But what sounds flashy may be based, at least in part, on flawed assumptions, warns Richard E. Clark, professor of educational psychology and technology at the University of Southern California. He says there is no evidence that there are “visual” learners who benefit from video over text, as Knewton implies. Studies, he says, have shown that “learning styles” are not effective for shaping instruction.
The broader problem with data mining, as Mr. Clark sees it, is that it is seldom done right. Data analysts often make “questionable assumptions” about the meaning of keystrokes, he says. They assume students who are spending the most time on some learning material are most interested in that content, for example. “That assumption may be true when people choose to watch Netflix movies but is not at all the case in many university courses where few choices are available,” Mr. Clark says.