Student Retention Research: A History Lesson

Okay the title (and the whole page actually) is a little passive aggressive, but I'm reading lots of retention literature at the moment and I'll be honest, I'm sick of reading "Student retention has been a concern for some time now". A couple of smart colleagues have pointed out that the language used has changed(*) …

Continue reading Student Retention Research: A History Lesson

Thoughts & lessons from LSAC 2018 (22nd – 23rd October 2018, University of Amsterdam)

One of my many failings is my inability to live tweet conference sessions. I mean that I just about manage to quote profound micro statements with an out-of-focus picture of a slide, but I generally have no idea what it meant two weeks later. Let's see if I can make anything better from my 35 …

Continue reading Thoughts & lessons from LSAC 2018 (22nd – 23rd October 2018, University of Amsterdam)

“Protect us from Newton’s single vision”: or why is a humanities graduate working in big data?

I'm most of the way through Nate Silver's "The Signal and the Noise: the art and science of prediction" I'm really struck by the fact that as I'm reading, I'm learning new tools and reference points to critique our learning analytics work. It's quite possible that if I'd a background in social sciences, mathematics or computer …

Continue reading “Protect us from Newton’s single vision”: or why is a humanities graduate working in big data?

What is Student Engagement?

Student Engagement drives the learning analytics resource we use. That is, we count students' use of various electronic proxies that are associated with participation on a course. However, before discussing those, I want to explore the concept of student engagement. In the UK there are broadly three definitions of student engagement: Students engaging with the …

Continue reading What is Student Engagement?

The HERE Project (2008 – 2011)

Connecting Learning Analytics with earlier work on Student Retention Between 2008 and 2011, we led a small research consortium looking at those factors that caused students to consider leaving early and those factors that helped them to stay for the Higher Education Funding Council/ Paul Hamlyn-funded "What Works? Student Retention and Success"(1) programme. The work …

Continue reading The HERE Project (2008 – 2011)

Student ‘Success’

Why use learning analytics? There are a number of potential reasons for Universities to invest in learning analytics (1): curriculum design, testing marketing effectiveness, insights into service provision etc, but for most institutions interest appears to be primarily about some form of student success. This may be about raising students' awareness of their own learning, …

Continue reading Student ‘Success’

Data: almost useless as an agent of change?

The comedian Mae Martin makes a great point in her BBC Radio 4 NOW show routine on addiction (30/03/2018). "Give me a cheer if you've ever read how your smartphone might be bad for you." And of course the audience cheers "We know, we've read the articles, we know there's potentially harmful radiation, our attention spans …

Continue reading Data: almost useless as an agent of change?

Making the Dashboard less accurate: probably the best decision we made about learning analytics

In 2013 we worked closely with the (then) tech start-up Solutionpath to build the pilot version of the Student Dashboard. Over a few months in the summer we went through a developmental process. Solutionpath built their proof-of-concept algorithm We shared multiple years of anonymised data and they used this data to see if the algorithm …

Continue reading Making the Dashboard less accurate: probably the best decision we made about learning analytics

Learning analytics: you should only have to think once

We've recently faced a difficult meeting with academics. Earlier in the year, we had a technical problem (a big reliability one) and now our academics are understandably far more critical of all aspects of the Dashboard. There were a number of overarching themes: There were too many different data points each requiring a decision There …

Continue reading Learning analytics: you should only have to think once

Nobody cares about your project

Our University has been really successful at piloting and then implementing learning analytics across the entire institution. However, we're far from perfect, we have a small team working on the project, our institutional systems were never built with learning analytics in mind and this is genuinely complicated stuff. Consequently: We have made mistakes in the …

Continue reading Nobody cares about your project