academic analytics – a snapshot #LAK12

Have skim read a paper on the state of academic analytics in the US and Canada in 2005 and found it mostly interesting and thought provoking. I guess it’s a shortcoming of my professional background, but I struggled with some of the terminology and so perhaps didn’t get the full benefit of the findings. What was interesting though was the main focus (at that time at least) on institutional uses of data other than for the support and retention of students, with areas such as fundraising and budgeting being predominant. Even where data was being used to examine issues directly relating to students, much of this was tied up with examining student recruitment rather than retention. In 2005, survey responses suggested that data was ‘sometimes’ being used to identify students who might be at risk or to trigger an intervention when some sort of warning flag was raised.

This article appears mainly concerned with how successful institutions have been in their adoption of academic analytics to aid institutional performance. Unsurprisingly the main findings are that analytics can be helpful if staff know what they are doing (they are trained and are skilled) and leadership is committed to evidence-based decision making. The article concludes with a prediction that the benefits of academic analytics will surely outweigh the costs of investment, and it is likely that many more institutions will continue to develop internal resource and capability. This is certainly happening at my own institution. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds over the coming years. #LAK12

About sharonslade

Dr Sharon Slade is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Law at the Open University in the UK working to support both tutors and students on Open University distance learning modules and programmes. Her research interests encompass ethical issues in learning analytics and online learning and tuition. Project work includes the development of a student support framework to improve retention and progression and the development of a university wide tool for tracking students and triggering relevant and targeted interventions. She led the development of new policy around the ethical use of learning analytics within the Open University, UK.
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