Using Student Data to Improve Learning
Here’s how to track the footprints students leave behind in your digital learning environment.
Students leave footprints behind every time they engage with their school’s digital learning environment. Learning analytics describe how those footprints can be used to improve learning, teaching, and institutional effectiveness. Let’s take a brief look at where you can begin making your students’ data actionable.
Learning environment logins can help instructors see specific levels of participation as well as how the learning environment is being used. For example, by looking at a login report, you can quickly see which students are active, where students are most active, and where they are not. That information is helpful for assessing where interventions might be required, or where content might need to be edited for more clarity.
For administrators, login data can be useful for seeing where faculty are participating and engaging students. This offers administrators a means of seeing beyond the “closed door” of the classroom, and they can also provide additional coaching and support where and when necessary.
Tool and Learning Object Data
Knowing which tools and learning objects students are accessing, and how often they are accessing them, can be useful for faculty when assessing student participation and performance.
For example, if an instructor notices that a student isn’t performing well on specific assignments, they can look to see if the student is accessing the appropriate assigned videos and discussion threads. An instructor can also use this information to get a sense of what content students are accessing the most and the least. This information can be quite useful in informing instructional decision-making and course design.
An administrator can use a tool access report to see what tools faculty are using and if there are any performance issues associated with specific tool use. Also, if an administrator sees that students using a specific tool often perform better than other students, she could host a discussion with faculty and instructional designers to see what strategies and tactics they are using with that tool that could, in turn, inform future course and activity design considerations.
When looking at student activity holistically, it can be helpful to know how often they’re engaged with course content, with other students, and what actions they’re performing when logged in to your learning environment. For example, let’s say, as an instructor, I want to see which students are most active in the discussion forum. Using this information, I might send a note to those who are not participating as regularly as they should be, and reward those who are actively engaging and contributing content.
For administrators, an activity report might be useful for looking at the relationship between student performance and faculty engagement. For example, if I could see when a student’s performance and activity levels began to drop, I should also be able to see when and how often the faculty member intervened. That kind of information would be useful in coaching and supporting faculty performance.
Enabling positive interventions
Ultimately, student activity and assessment data can help educators see where students are having difficulty so that they can intervene.
It’s important to note that learning analytics serve educators best as a diagnostic process that can be used to gain insights into student behavior, as well as by helping them gauge the effectiveness of learning content and organization.
In addition, analyzing student and instructor behaviors can help institutions identify at-risk students and instructors, so that intervention and support can happen earlier.