#lak15 how should we quantify student engagement? 

Perry Samson

Qus: how can we know whether students are engaging with our teaching? What makes a smart student smart? Do smart students engage in a different way?

Outcomes likely to be impacted by motivation, academic background and their participation, life circumstances, etc. Can we build a model which predicts how students will achieve? What are the measures of success? 

Suggests as measures of participation: attendance, questions posed, marks, capturing/downloading lecture, notes taken etc. all this captured in a LA system. Audience suggest attendance is perhaps key 🙂  Samson shares some data from previous groups. The more students followed the lecture slides, the better they did; the more notes taken (word count and frequency of note taking)  the better they did; reviewing lecture videos also linked. Ok. So far, so intuitive. So, what can be looked for at an early stage in the term/semester to be used as a reliable predictor of likely outcome? 

(Un)surprisingly, no link to class attendance by itself. Attendance is required with some other action.  Previous academic achievement is strongly linked to success. So what is the added benefit of the instructor? Already smart students do more in class. Less smart students engage less in class related activities. So what to make of this? Can we say that students with lower previous academic success have lower success because they are less smart or because they are consistently doing less (motivation) or have lower study skills? Not sure anyone really knows. Is a smart student smart because they are doing the extra activities (the activities add to their smartness) or because they understand that they need to do more? 

The data was shared with students and students asked if they were happy with their test performances. Having seen the apparent link between greater note taking, video views etc, students stated an intention to do more. But would students actually change their behaviour following this? In practice, students did not change their ways. Very short term impact. So what next? Suggests perhaps the use of ongoing feedback (dashboard) which presents back to the student their activity and their performance. Potential that ongoing feedback might lead to a longer term change in behaviours. 

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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