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TBR’s Denley brings research concepts to MTSU for Feb. 10 talk

The Tennessee Board of Regents’ vice chancellor for academic affairs will bring his award-winning mathematics research to MTSU for a talk with undergraduate and graduate students and faculty.

Tristan Denley, who has been with the TBR since 2013, will speak starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, in Kirksey Old Main Room 206.

Tristan Denley

Tristan Denley

The former Austin Peay State University faculty member will discuss “Using Predictive Analytics Data to Improve the First-Year Experience.”

In his abstract, Denley notes a longstanding reality that success in higher education is uneven among the U.S. population. In the last three decades, “racial minority, low-income and first-generation students have earned post-secondary degrees at substantially lower rates than their counterparts,” he said.

The work is an attempt to empower the advising process, not an attempt to automate it, he said.

“By providing detailed, focused and timely information to both student and adviser we can enable the advising conversation to be a much more nuanced conversation and improve student outcomes,” he added.

Dong Ye

Dong Ye

Dong Ye, an assistant professor in the MTSU Department of Mathematical Sciences, said Denley “has some very nice and deep results” in his study. “Now, he uses methods from graph theory to study the data of students enrolled in TBR system schools, which is very impressive.”

Denley’s research led to the creation of “Degree Compass,” a course recommendation system that successfully pairs current students with the courses that best fit their talents and program of study for upcoming semesters, Dong said.

Denley’s system, which combines hundreds of thousands of past students’ grades with each particular student’s transcript to take individualized recommendations for current students, was an IMS Global Learning Impact Awards winner and has received recognition from Educause, Complete College America, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and President Obama.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

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