Ed FosterI have worked in higher education for 25 years in a range of roles primarily focussed on supporting students to better engage with their studies or reducing barriers to participation. Since 2013, the core of my work has been in the field of learning analytics. I am responsible for the development of learning analytics at Nottingham Trent University, through our work with our technology partner Solutionpath building the NTU Student Dashboard using their StREAM technology.

Part of the reason for this institutionally-agnostic site is that some of the findings I want to share are developed through research on external projects. We currently lead the ABLE Erasmus+ project with our partners in KU Leuven and U Leiden (2015-2018) and, over the same time, are project partners in the STELA Project alongside KU Leuven, TU Delft, TU Graz and SEFI. In 2018-21, we will be working on a new project, OfLA, with Arteveldehogeschool and U Utrecht.

I am not a data scientist or statistician, but a humanities graduate who has worked in an education setting. My role is not about fixing algorithms, but asking questions about how people can best use the technology to support student success.

This blog is intended to be a place to upload quick though pieces, reflections on learning analytics discourse and highlight events or new research.

The views represented are my own and do not represent the position of my employer Nottingham Trent University or the technology partner, Solutionpath.

Ed Foster

Academic CV

Ed Foster,

Student Engagement Manager

Department of Schools, Colleges & Community Outreach, Nottingham Trent University

Career summary

2014 – present – Student Engagement Manager, Nottingham Trent University

Responsible for delivering the Student Dashboard learning analytics resource across the whole institution including stable operations, research, communications and staff development. Lead the ABLE Erasmus+ research project into using learning analytics to support student transition into the first year.

2002 – 2014 – Study Support Coordinator, Nottingham Trent University

Led a team of four learning developers and ten student academic mentors to deliver a range of study support workshops and one to one sessions. Led the implementation of a large institutional Welcome Week programme designed to improve the quality of  the initial university experience. Led a research consortium (the HERE Project) investigating strategies for improving student retention.

1995-2002 – Various Student Development roles Nottingham Trent University Students’ Union

1994-1995 – Enterprise Assistant, De Montfort University

1993-1994 – President, De Montfort University Students’ Union


1998 – 2000 – Postgraduate Diploma in Training Management, Nottingham Trent University

1993 – 1994 –  BA (hons) History & English, De Montfort University


Book chapters & peer reviewed articles

LAWTHER, S., and FOSTER, E., 2016., Developing a Sense of Belonging: what is it that helps students feel that they ‘fit in’ on their course? In: BONNE, P. and NUTT, D., eds., Ten Times the First Year: reflections on ten years of the European First Year Experience Conference, Tielt: Lannoo Campus

LAWTHER, S., FOSTER, E., MUTTON, J. and KERRIGAN, M., 2015., Can the use of learning analytics encourage positive student behaviours?  In: G. JANES, D. NUTT and P. TAYLOR, eds., Student behaviour in HE: co-creating positive learning cultures. UK: SEDA

FOSTER, E., BORG, M., DR., LAWTHER, S., MCNEIL, J. and KENNEDY, E., DR., 2014. Using Student Engagement Research to Improve the First Year Experience at a UK University. In: C. BRYSON, ed., Student Engagement in Challenging Times. UK: Routledge.

FOSTER, E. and SOUTHWELL-SANDER, J., 2014. The NTSU Outstanding Teaching Awards – Student Perspectives on Engagement. In: C. BRYSON, ed., Student Engagement in Challenging Times. UK: Routledge.

FOSTER, E., MCNEIL, J. and LAWTHER, S., 2012. Exploring new students’ conceptions of engagement and feedback. In: L. CLOUDER, C. BROUGHAN, S. JEWELL and G. STEVENTON, eds., Improving Student Engagement and Development through Assessment: Theory and Practice in Higher Education. UK: Routledge.

FOSTER, E., LAWTHER, S., LEFEVER, R., BATES, N., KEENAN, C. and COLLEY, B., 2012. HERE to stay? An exploration of student doubting, engagement and retention in three UK universities. In: I. SOLOMONIDES, A. REID and P. PETOCZ, eds., Engaging with Learning in Higher Education. UK: Libri Publishing, pp. 95-114.

FOSTER, E., LAWTHER, S., HARDY, C., KIRBY, R. and MOLINEAUX, P., 2012. Nottingham Trent University’s Welcome Week: a sustained programme to improve early social and academic transition for new students In: J. ANDREWS, R. CLARK and L. THOMAS, eds., Compendium of effective practice in higher education retention and success UK: Aston University & the Higher Education Academy, pp. 27-31.

FOSTER, E., LAWTHER, S. and MCNEIL, J., 2011. Learning Developers Supporting Early Student Transition. In: P. HARTLEY, J. HILSDON, C. KEENAN, S. SINFIELD and M. VERITY, eds., Learning Development in Higher Education. Great Britain: Palgrave Macmillan.

FOSTER, E. and LEFEVER, R., 2011. Barriers and strategies for retaining male students. In: L. THOMAS and J. BERRY, eds., Male access & success in Higher Education: a discussion paper. York: Higher Education Academy, pp. 20-25.

PURNELL, S. and FOSTER, E., 2008. Transition and Engagement. In: L. HAND and C. BRYSON, eds., Student Engagement: SEDA Special 22. United Kingdom: Staff & Educational Development Association.


FOSTER, E., 2014. Young people’s perceptions about post-18 education and training options – commentaries. UK: University & Colleges Union.

KEENAN, C., FOSTER, E. and LAWTHER, S., 2012. Stemming the doubts: enhanced transition and induction to HE STEM programmes. Birmingham: National HE STEM programme.

FOSTER, E., LAWTHER, S., KEENAN, C., BATES, N., COLLEY, B. and LEFEVER, R., 2012. The HERE Project Final Report.

FOSTER, E., LAWTHER, S., KEENAN, C., BATES, N., COLLEY, B. and LEFEVER, R., 2012. The HERE Project toolkit & recipe cards.

FOSTER, E. and BRITTAIN, M., 2010. Flying Start End of Project Report: Shadowing at NTU.

Sample of conference papers and presentations

FOSTER, E., EDWARDS, R., 2018, Implementation of an institution-wide learning analytics dashboard: a case study – Learning Analytics Knowledge 2018 conference, Sydney Australia, 5-9 March 2018

FOSTER, E., 2015. Is it possible to use learning analytics to improve the student experience? Or is it all just a bit too ‘Big Brother’? conference presentation at NUS Strategic Conversation, 11th February 2015, Sheffield, National Union of Students

FOSTER, E., 2014. Using data to improve recruitment and retention, conference presentation at Higher Education Data: Redesigning the information landscape. 12th November 2014, London, Inside Government.

ELANDER, J., FOSTER, E., NORTON, L. and FOXCROFT, A., 2009. What changes in the transition to learning at university? C. RUST, ed. In: Proceedings of the 17th International Symposium, Improving Student Learning for the twenty-first century learner, 7-9 September, 2009, The Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development, pp. 141-156.

FOSTER, E., LEES, M., O’NEILL, W. and LAWTHER, S., 2009. More than “Getting Smashed with Randomers” – Improving Student Induction, European First Year Experience Conference, 13 – 15 May, 2009.

FOSTER, E., BELL, R. and SALZANO, S., 2008. “What’s a Journal?” – Research into the Prior Learning Experiences of Students Entering Higher Education, European First Year Experience Conference, 7 – 9 May 2008.