Tracking a student’s buying habits through his campus card usage could allow college administrators to spot warning signs that the student may eventually drop out of college, according to a PolicyMic.com report.
But is such data-gathering a violation of privacy?
Arizona State university professor Matt Pittinsky believes that tracking students’ movements and purchases on campus through their student ID card could show which students may be on their way towards quitting college. The professor’s research could help colleges identify struggling students earlier allowing them to provide assistance.
Pittinsky gives the example of a student’s visits to Starbucks. If the student has a history of buying a cup of coffee every day before a class and then suddenly stops, while at the same time fails to log into the school’s card provider Web site like he usually does, this would be a sign that an adviser should reach out to the student.
While the college is not using the system yet, Pittinsky is doing research with a set of anonymous campus card swipe data.
The problem is that in order to spot these so-called danger signs, the college would have to comb through the records of everything the student has bought and every facility he has accessed. So in addition to the Starbucks data, college administrators could see how often the student does his laundry, whether he buys junk food, and whether he uses the gym.
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