Data Mining Online at Babson College

At Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., there’s a strong emphasis on data mining. Students are learning to think about large datasets in new ways, and they’re becoming fluent with data mining techniques. The college is using SPSS Inc.’s Clementine, a data mining tool, in their online curriculum.

Data mining allows students to extract information sets from large databases and to identify trends and relationships among the data in order to solve marketing problems. “We use Clementine as one application along with SPSS statistical analysis software in the advanced applied statistics course for undergrads, and it is part of the core curriculum for the MBA students,” explains Dr. Elaine Allen, associate professor at Babson.

“For some students, data mining can be very intimidating,” says Allen. “The ‘look and feel’ of Clementine is extremely easy for the students to learn.” As students reach the graduate level, data mining and data analysis become virtually routine for them. Babson students often work at companies with large databases that are ideal for data mining projects. In cases where students have their own ideas for projects, Babson encourages them to start their own companies, which are often Web-based.

“With our students working for various companies, each with their own data formats, Clementine’s ability to handle multiple data formats is another critical factor behind our decision to implement it,” Allen adds.

“By applying their data mining skills to existing company data, Babson students benefit from their ability to understand and synthesize data, which is an extremely valuable skill to possess in the job market,” observes Allen. “This provides a competitive advantage because they can demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving capabilities by making recommendations founded on actual research.”

Babson’s efforts to integrate data mining software into its online curriculum has proven to be a good fit with its institutional mission to cultivate innovation and develop creative problem solving skills in its 21st century students.

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