How Western Governors University (WGU) Uses Data Analytics For Project Success

Western Governors University (WGU) is a private, nonprofit, online American university based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The university uses a competency-based learning model, with students working online.

According to WGU, the most important data for project success is having a measurement plan that includes implementation fidelity and efficacy. The key objective is to answer the following questions "How do we know we are doing what we intended to do?" and "How do we know if what we did worked?"

Measuring Implementation fidelity
WGU has used many methods, ranging from analyzing log data of student sessions with electronic learning materials to having faculty use hashtag notations in the student notes.

Efficacy Measurement
WGU prefers to use randomized control trials, but they also use quasi-experimental methods. The most important data is to have a clearly defined outcome variable that can be reliably measured.

Western Governors University (WGU) has a competitive advantage with outcome variables compared to traditional higher education institutions. At WGU, all assessments are centrally developed and this system of assessment produces much more reliable data than having faculty individually assigning letter grades.

Another unique aspect of data at WGU is its domain taxonomy or hierarchy of learning outcomes mapped to learning materials and assessments. Student learning behavior can be mapped between the electronic course materials and assessment. Formative assessment data is more predictive of success on the high stakes assessment than simple pageviews.