An AI playbook for improving college completion

November 26, 2023
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A national nonprofit group focused on college completion has released a playbook looking at uses for artificial intelligence to equalize and scale access to college degrees.

Complete College America’s 78-page playbook and accompanying equity paper offers specific steps for institutions that the group says can help boost college attainment and close equity, race and socioeconomic gaps. The playbook and paper mention over 200 uses for AI, from identifying students who need support to mining datasets.

It follows the growing use and interest in AI following the launch of ChatGPT last year, and flows from the group’s creation of a 20-person Council on Equitable AI in Higher Education.

“AI is reshaping so many facets of modern life, and though there are challenges, we must look at the opportunities it brings, especially when it comes to student success and college completion strategies,” Yolanda Watson Spiva, president of Complete College America, said in a statement. “We are keeping our eye toward the future, always grounded in our mission and commitment to equitable college access.”

The report identifies three focus areas for creating equitable AI: providing access to both students and institutions at large; unbiased training data; and widening the groups consulted on the development of AI to include community colleges, minority-serving institutions and public institutions. The council stated it will work with technology companies, regulatory bodies and higher education institutions to foster an environment where equity “is not just a goal but a tangible practice.”

“The strategies and policies that increase student success aren’t a mystery—but scaling those strategies and policies is a challenge for many institutions because of resource constraints,” said Vistasp M. Karbhari, a CCA fellow and professor of civil engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. “As AI continues to grow, it has the potential to begin leveling the playing field across higher education; however, we must ensure that all institutions have the technology, expertise, and financial resources to access and implement technological advances such as generative AI. Only then will we be able to unleash the true scalability of these tools to address the inequities of access and attainment.”



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