How Precision Education Works

The Precision Education Model

The approach to Precision Education is organized in the same navigational framework used to create Google Maps. The first objective is to understand students well enough to help them achieve their goals (destination). This will require a better sense of what they currently know and can do (current location). It will also require knowing more about the way they best learn (mode of transportation). Finally, instruction and support toward creating more options for success (pathways to the destination) must be unbundled.

Understanding Students
In order to achieve these aspirations, the university aims to find new, more effective ways to organize student data, and obtain a more precise understanding of student goals, level of preparation to achieve these goals, the ways that they respond to different instructional approaches, and many other emerging factors. Having this knowledge available in real-time, is the foundation for creating customized pathways to achieve a meaningful student experience.

Unbundling and Expanding Instruction and Support
One of the most important shifts in the educational paradigm is the need to unbundle instruction and student support. This means deconstructing courses into competencies and micro-competencies and appropriately aligning assessments. The core principles of competency-based education (CBE) are represented in this deconstruction. Rather than simply taking courses, students will progress through their competencies at their own pace and with as much flexibility in the order that they address the competencies as is feasible.

Multiple Pathways
Beyond CBE, is the concept of having multiple learning activities available and linked to each competency. Only then can predictive learning analytics be applied to the different approaches and matched to specific students based upon the highest probability of success. This is a fundamental shift to the traditional, linear approach to higher education. In most course-based formats, and even CBE approaches, there are not multiple options available to acquire the skills or knowledge required to succeed in the course. What makes this initiative unique is that providing multiple options allows the system (machine) to track impact, getting “smarter” with each choice. The system becomes more precise in matching activities with students the more it is used.

In addition to creating multiple learning activities, it is important to create multiple strategies for student support. That is, asking what types of tutoring, coaching, mentoring, and motivational support is most effective for specific students. Understanding which type of support enhances progress, is as important as understanding which specific learning activities lead to success. Customized student services are possible when there is a better understanding of each student’s goals and needs, and when there are multiple ways of supporting them.

The resulting Precision Education model at National University represents its strategic plan-inspired motto:
High Tech, High Touch, High Choice.