Updated: Feb 12, 2022
While some areas of higher education regularly rely on data-driven decision making to thrive, (enrollment management, for example) teaching and learning is often less data-centric overall. From the educator’s perspective, there can be a negative perception attached to data that it is impersonal. This perception can prevent educators from seeing the potential for data to truly realize a transformative learning experience for their students. The use of real-time learning analytics to target individual student needs can be a game changer for student success, but only if educators and students are empowered to understand and act upon the data provided.
Transformative learning theory is the idea that learners who are receiving new information are also examining their previous understandings and shifting their perspective as they critically reflect on the new information they obtain. The theory is particularly focused on adult learning, and can help us understand why learning analytics can aid both educators and students alike. When educators have up to date, relevant information about their students, they can make timely and informed decisions in the classroom that have a measurable affect on success and retention. Likewise, when students also have access to their learning analytics, they can make real-time informed decisions about where to target their tutoring and study efforts.
Learning analytics dashboards are becoming more commonplace throughout education, particularly at institutions that utilize an LMS. These dashboards can provide an incredible amount of immediately actionable information, including student demographics, individual assignment completion, and performance. While institutions regularly collect a large amount of data on their students, it is important to provide teachers with only the data that is relevant to them. While providing educators with no information about their students is a problem, overloading them with irrelevant information is just as bad. Teachers are more likely to act upon the data they receive when it is easily accessible, simple to understand, relevant to their responsibilities.
We can also empower students simply by giving them access to the same data their teacher can see about them. This is where learning analytics can embody a truly transformative approach to education. Balancing the agency of teacher and student by openly sharing this data empowers both parties, as they can independently and collaboratively address any issues. It also allows teachers an awareness of learner differences, so that they may respond and support their students more effectively.
Love, J., et al. (2021). Show Students Their Data: Using Dashboards to Support Self-Regulated Learning. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2021/7/show-students-their-data-using-dashboards-to-support-self-regulated-learning