This site presents findings of an OLT-commissioned project (SP13-3249) that examined learning analytics uptake in the Australian higher education sector, its potential for retention, and identified affording and constraining factors mediating its uptake. The project was hosted at the University of South Australia, with representation from The University of Melbourne, University of Technology Sydney, Macquarie University, University of the Sunshine Coast and University of New England.
The report produced by the Project is timely. Learning analytics activity is burgeoning across the sector. Institutional managers, attracted to the potential of learning analytics to generate unprecedented insight into student learning experiences and outcomes, are investing considerable technology, staffing and fiduciary resources to the development of learning analytics tools and strategies.
Yet, for all this energy, learning analytics implementations across the sector remain primarily nascent, with few programs possessing the maturity or sophistication to link performance data back to teaching and learning practice in a form that generates improvement. Part explanation for this may be provided by the short time that learning analytics has been ‘performed’ in higher education. However, the purpose of this project was to interrogate this space, to gain insight into learning analytics ‘current state’, and from this a better understanding of its challenges.
Specific aims of the Project were to:
- Determine the current state of LA in the Australian higher education context, as shaped by institutional goals, plans, preparation and implementation activity
- Determine critical relationships between institutional LA and retention initiatives
- Elicit insight into the affordances and constraints of sustainable and effective LA implementations
The project comprised 2 separate yet complementary studies. The first study (Study 1) involved the analysis of qualitative interviews with senior leaders about LA implementations that were occurring in their respective institutions, and perceived affordances and constraints. It was concerned with eliciting insight into current implementations, and the processes and drivers that shaped them. The coding framework applied to the interview data afforded opportunity for further cluster analyses. The cluster analysis revealed the complexity and multidimensionality of LA projects as well as the emergence of two distinct implementation profiles.
Study 2 investiaged the factors perceived as necessary for establishing sustainable LA implementations that demonstrate long term impact. Owing to the relatively nascent status of LA within the higher education sector, it was not possible to elicit such insight from the examination of extant programs. Therefore a concept mapping exercise was developed that solicited opinion and insight about future requirements, from an international panel of expert practitioners, researchers and stakeholders.
Diagram of the Research Process
More detail about research methods is contained in the Methodology section of the Final Report.