Evidence-Based Decision Making: Using Learning Analytics to Improve Learning and Teaching Outcomes

Dr David WilsonGuest blog by Dr David Wilson, Lecturer | Head of Molecular Physiology of Vascular Function Research Group, School of Medical Sciences

I’d like to share an update from the Learning Analytics Community of Practice that highlights some of our activities. The community has been very active in sharing Learning Analytics domain knowledge, and in working to develop tools to improve learning and teaching outcomes. I would like to thank all members of the community for their valuable contributions and insight and extend a welcome to new members in 2018. Below are a couple of highlights:

Learning and Teaching Preferences
One of the most valuable aspects of learning analytics is that it enables the identification of student learning preferences: video, screen narration, audio, text and practical simulation, etc… It is clear that the “one size fits all” approach is not always ideal. Although I was a classic textbook learner, I found myself incorporating a lot of self-made video into my teaching. However, that changed when the data told me that many of the students, particularly foreign students, had a preference for text.

I kept my video but included text-based captions and often text-based transcripts to better meet the student learning preferences. I am really looking forward to improvements in closed captioning of video that will ease this workflow considerably.

Cramming vs Spaced and Paced Learning
The Learning Analytics data are clear, the majority of students still cram – engage with the course content in a meaningful way 2-3 days prior to assessment. Suggested action: Place an assessment to encourage “remembering and understanding” and offer feedback and remediation before you begin to engage in higher order elements like application and analysis of the fundamental information.

When working with students as partners we identified that, during the semester, some students had 2 or 3 assessments due on a given day. Several students shared the “need to sacrifice a low value assessment” in order to “pass another higher value one”. Course coordinators often space their assessments but are unaware what other course coordinators are planning. Suggested action: If you ensure each assessment in Canvas has a specified due date we can help you map assessment across programs and majors to ensure spaced and paced assessment.

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