Can Learning Analytics Make You a Better Teacher?

learning analytics

Teachers have used data in many forms to evaluate how a student is learning and performing - from test scores to homework grades. Now, a specially tailored learning analytics for educators is helping increase teacher effectiveness and student understanding.

Learning analytics in education assess each student’s learning needs, interests, aspirations and cultural background to develop a tailored education program designed to maximize individual outcomes.

The 2012 Horizon Report defines learning analytics as “the interpretation of a wide range of data produced by, and gathered on. behalf of students in order to assess academic progress, predict future performance and spot potential issues. […] The goal of learning analytics is to enable teachers and schools to tailor educational opportunities to each student’s level of need and ability in close-to-real time.”

Learning analytics in education is used to achieve these four objectives:

  • Allows the student to evaluate his or her achievements against other students
  • Allows teachers to quickly identify students needing greater support or special monitoring
  • For teaching teams, improve the quality of education provided in the course and relevance of the developed materials
  • For training managers, decide which further actions are adapted to newly arrived audiences and adapt curricula

Learning analytics is achieved through data tracking. Every time a student logs into a virtual learning environment, submits assessments online or checks out material in the library, a digital footprint is created. By culling the data and interpreting it, meaningful changes can be made to individual learning and broad curriculum.

Several case studies provide insight into the most prominent institution level learning analytics initiatives worldwide. The research shows:

  • The validity of the predictive models used by learning analytics systems
  • Interventions carried out with students have been effective
  • There are multiple benefits to taking a more data-driven approach to higher education

Research on learning analytics and student success by JISC, an international educational research firm, shows how learning analytics in education are being used at higher education institutions throughout the country. The JISC researchers found:

  • Purdue University used learning analytics to identify potential student problems by the second week of the term resulting in 12% more B and C grades, and 14% less D and F grades.
  • New York Institute of Technology found that 74% of students who dropped out were predicted as being at-risk by the data model.
  • Marist College used learning analytics to provide early student feedback resulting in a 6% improvement in final grades by identified at-risk students.

While subjective teacher evaluations will play a role in assessing student performance, the massive amount of data available today can also make a positive impact on individual performance and collective curriculum.

If you’re interested in learning more about learning analytics in the K-12 classroom, or in higher education, consider Northcentral University’s Doctor of Education or PhD program specializations. 

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