Learning Analytics helps La Cite College improve student retention
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How La Cité College is Improving Student Retention with Learning Analytics

  • 4 Min Read

See how gathering data right in the classroom can be used to empower education

As more schools begin to realize the power of student data, they are often left overwhelmed by the possibilities of what they might do with it. The way that the Brightspace Learning Environment provides access to learner data is through data sets, which can be integrated via APIs with other institutional systems (such as an SIS) or analyzed through business intelligence (BI) tools to build reports and dashboards. While Brightspace comes with built-in analytics reports that help faculty visualize that learner data at a course level, some schools want to create custom, higher-level analyses to measure institutional goals.

Learning analytics provides key student data

In a previous post, we talked about how Brigham Young University-Idaho is using learner analytics to better understand student outcomes and instructor engagement. In this post, we look at how La Cité college, the largest post-secondary French-language school in Ontario and outside of Quebec, is using learning analytics to predict and improve student retention rates.

La Cité moved from their previous LMS provider to Brightspace because of the untapped potential in learner data and analytics. As a French school in Ottawa, they are competing with larger, English-speaking higher education institutions. As such, measuring and improving student retention rates are especially important to La Cité.

Measuring in-class interaction

The school wanted to determine which sets of learner data might be able to predict student retention, so advisors could proactively reach out to at-risk students. They hypothesized that student engagement was a significant predictor of success. However, the vast majority of courses at La Cité are delivered through face-to-face instruction, not online. This means that a lot of data related to student engagement – classroom participation, discussions, and other in-person interactions – is not necessarily being captured in the LMS for analysis.

In order to track these in-class interactions, La Cité created a set of custom grade objects for each student, wherein students are assigned a “red”, “yellow”, or “green” at weeks 3 and 6 of the semester, based on the instructor’s assessment of the student’s in-class activity. By using this grade object to quantify in-class engagement, La Cité was now able to capture this additional data inside Brightspace and could explore different ways of analyzing it.

By combining this ‘engagement score’ data with other data about users and enrollments, the school built interactive dashboards for administrators and advisors using their business intelligence tool (Tableau), allowing them to analyze the data through a variety of lenses.

Tracking institutional goals

La Cité has an institutional goal of 90% of instructors using this ‘engagement score’ metric in their courses. The dashboard for deans allows them to see in aggregate whether this goal is being met, and at a more granular level, which professors have or have not logged scores by weeks 3 and 6. These reports can be sliced and diced in various ways: by school or institute, by course, or by instructor across courses. La Cité  can use the results to identify which groups of professors may need more coaching on how and why to use this metric.

Administrator Dashboard for Brightspace

The College also aggregates the data into an advisor-focused dashboard. Advisors can filter their dashboard to see which students have a “yellow” or “red” engagement score. Advisors can filter their reports by program or department, as well as drill down to identify individual students who may need intervention.

Advisor Dashboard for Brightspace

Turning insights into action

The use of this ‘engagement score’ has been a huge success at La Cité. Within the first year of rolling it out, they saw an opportunity to modify their reach-out techniques with at-risk students, which translated into some impactful results in terms of student success.

According to Michel Singh, conseiller cadre (Senior Advisor) at La Cité, the key to a successful learning analytics strategy like this is “you need to hit all three layers: you can’t just make it work for admins, or advisors, or students – it needs to benefit all of them”.

This is how La Cité is doing just that:

  • Admins: La Cité notes the ‘engagement score’ metric has seen adoption rates of 93% among faculty, facilitated in part by the admin-level dashboards that help identify adoption gaps.
  • Students: Because this ‘engagement score’ is reported only three weeks into a semester, it encourages students and promotes self-improvement early in the semester. In particular, this early feedback encourages productive conversations between students and professors from Week 3 through to the end of the term.
  • Advisors: Since these ‘engagement score’ metrics are surfaced to advisors too, it helps student advisors at La Cité proactively reach out and help at-risk students early in the semester to get them back on track.

Schools like Brigham Young University-Idaho and La Cité college are great examples of how learner data can be used to reach institutional objectives. But for schools who are still developing their learning analytics strategies, the Brightspace Community is a place where clients can share their own tips and approaches to using data from Brightspace.

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