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Predictive Analytics Students Partner with Nonprofits to Hone Skills

Christie Fuller

Students enrolled in the Predictive Analytics class were given the opportunity to partner with three local and regional nonprofit organizations to hone their analytics skills. The students worked with the Nonprofit Association of Oregon (NAO), the Idaho Nonprofit Center and RISE, Treasure Valley’s Education Partnership. Predictive Analytics class is taught by Christie Fuller, Ph.D. and assistant professor of information technology management.

First, students analyzed existing survey data from the Idaho Nonprofit Center to determine the factors driving executive compensation for nonprofit organizations. Second, the Nonprofit Association of Oregon and Idaho Nonprofit Center provided survey data collected from nonprofits in the two states that is used to determine the state of the nonprofit sector in the region.

Students used the skills they developed in the class to do both descriptive and predictive analytics on the data provided by the partner organizations. Among the findings were that organizations with effective boards of directors, board approved annual budgets, stable funding and those that effectively utilize program data are more likely to achieve their mission.

The students also worked with RISE to analyze the high school senior exit survey data. This survey has been conducted in the Treasure Valley annually since 2015. In the Spring of 2019, approximately 4300 students completed the survey. The goal of this analysis was to determine which factors are related to a student’s intention to go on to a technical or trade school, a 2-year degree program or a 4-year degree program after high school.

“Having Christie Fuller’s students review and conduct deeper analysis on our senior exit survey data has been extremely valuable to our project and will enable us to continuously improve the work we are doing,” Sheralyn Bauder, partnership manager at RISE. “Without the extra eyes and minds of these Boise State University students we would be short-handed in our ability to truly provide essential information to school counselors and administrators as to how they can best serve their students needs.”

Career Track MBA students in the Data Management and Analytics class were able to extend the analysis of the RISE data by performing two types of analysis on subsets of the senior exit survey, such as the data for a single school or district.

Further, based on a suggestion that came from the Fall 2019 Predictive Analytics class, the Career-Track students also developed a high school freshmen survey in Bridgette Braig’s (visiting assistant professor) Fundamentals of Marketing Class. This survey may be implemented by RISE to track changes in student attitudes and after high school plans from freshman year to senior year.

Fuller believes this is a wonderful opportunity for her students.

“Nonprofit organizations realize the importance of data, but often do not have the resources to analyze their data,” said Fuller. “By working on these projects, my students gain real-world experience while giving back to the community they live in. It’s definitely a mutually beneficial experience for the students and the organizations.”

Idaho Nonprofit Center CEO Amy Little appreciated the experience.

“We could not have completed this project without the hard work of these incredible students. I was so impressed with their professionalism and knowledge of analytics,” said Little. “We are very blessed to partner with Boise State University in a variety of ways, but particularly on data-driven projects as those are places we lack our own internal capacity.”

The Predictive Analytics at Boise State University has been taught each since 2016. The course is a requirement of for the Business and Economics Analytics degree and the Business Analytics Certificate and may also be taken as an elective.For more information on how to partner with Fuller and her students, contact Christie Fuller at christiefuller@boisestate.edu.