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APSU develops course suggestion tool similar to Netflix, Amazon

If you’ve been online lately, then perhaps you have bought a book recommended to you by Amazon, watched a movie that Netflix suggested that you would enjoy or listened to music selected for you by Pandora.

In a similar vein, as part of a commitment to student success, Austin Peay State University has created a Course Recommendation System that helps pair a student with courses that best fit his/her talents and program of study.

If you’ve been online lately, then perhaps you have bought a book recommended to you by Amazon, watched a movie that Netflix suggested that you would enjoy or listened to music selected for you by Pandora.

In a similar vein, as part of a commitment to student success, Austin Peay State University has created a Course Recommendation System that helps pair a student with courses that best fit his/her talents and program of study.

“The system combines hundreds of thousands of past students’ grades with a particular student’s transcript to make individualized course recommendations,” said Dr. Tristan Denley, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “These are recommendations that apply directly to the student’s program of study. The strongest recommendations are those courses which are necessary for a student to graduate, and which the system predicts the student will be most successful in academically.”

The system also provides information to faculty. This information is designed for use as a tool in academic advising, meant to supplement the advice faculty members provide to their advisees as they progress through their degree.

The idea for the project was sparked, in part, by the goals set by APSU President Tim Hall, focusing on student retention and success.

Denley, who has a Ph.D. in mathematics, coined the concept last summer and created the underlying mathematics and algorithms. Having created a preliminary model, he began working with Robb Betts, Mark Jarrell, John Lander and Anna Murray – all from the University’s Office of Information Technology – last fall to code and implement the tool, turning it into a functional Web system.

“We are very excited to be able to make this unique feature available to our students,” Denley said.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has featured it in its weekly news publication for the week of April 11. It can be accessed via this link:

http://chronicle.com/article/The-Netflix-Effect-When/127059/