Learning Analytics

In the February edition of Edubytes, we are dipping into our first themed edition of the newsletter to focus on learning analytics. Our guest editor, Craig Thompson, a research analyst with CTLT and newly elected treasurer of SoLAR, has curated the first part of this edition.

Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs.

A growing number of leading universities have “learning analytics”, “student analytics”, or “student success analytics” initiatives, all focused on using data collected institutionally to improve the student learning experience. These programs are exploring ways to increase student engagement, measure the effectiveness of new teaching initiatives, and provide timely interventions to students in need of support. Through the use of learning analytics, many universities are aiming to instill a culture of continuous improvement in the student learning experience.

Below are some exciting recent developments in learning analytics:

Video — OnTask: Actionable feedback for students

OnTask is a new tool for delivering mass-personalized feedback to students that enables instructors to provide timely, actionable, tailored advice, in large courses where the student-instructor ratio would typically preclude this level of detailed feedback. This video, produced by the University of Technology Sydney, showcases how the tool can be used to provide customized feedback and support.
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STEM faculty who believe ability is fixed have larger racial achievement gaps and inspire less student motivation in their classes

A recent study conducted by Elizabeth Canning et al. demonstrates that instructor beliefs about whether intellectual ability is fixed or malleable (i.e. “growth” mindset) have a significant impact on both student achievement and motivation. In a survey of about 15,000 students, 150 professors and 600 STEM courses, students performed more poorly in courses taught by instructors with a fixed mindset than those with growth mindset beliefs. Furthermore, achievement gaps among underrepresented minority student groups are greater in courses taught by faculty with fixed mindset beliefs. As the authors state, “faculty-centered interventions may have the unprecedented potential to change STEM culture from a fixed mindset culture of genius to a growth mindset culture of development while narrowing STEM racial achievement gaps at scale.”
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Implementation of a student learning analytics fellows program

As more institutions pursue analytics initiatives aimed at improving student learning, we can see some early leaders emerging. George Rehrey et al. from Indiana University received a Best Practitioner Paper award last year at the annual International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK). The paper describes the structure of their Student Learning Analytics Fellows program, the types of research undertaken by their fellows and how institutional transformation is taking shape through a commitment to connecting learning analytics research with practice at IUB.
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Timothy McKay: Can a university become a learning laboratory?

In his inspiring keynote address to the LAK community, Timothy McKay lays out a vision of the university as a “learning laboratory”: a place where “…everything we do contributes to generalizable knowledge about teaching and learning.” McKay presents on the history of learning analytics work at the University of Michigan — one of the leading institutions in the area. He then draws parallels between the rise of learning analytics and the successful history of evidence-based medicine, suggesting that the future of education will include continuous, systematic improvement through experimentation, while taking a student-centered, privacy preserving approach.
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Enjoyed reading about Learning Analytics? Learn about other topics we covered in the February 2019 edition by reading the complete Edubytes newsletter. To view past issues, visit the Edubytes archive.

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