Jisc finds most students ‘happy to share data for learning analytics’

Survey finds support for tools that could improve grades and reduce risk of dropping out

February 25, 2016
Students sharing data using mobile devices

Most students are prepared to share data on their academic activities with universities’ learning analytics programmes, according to a survey.

Seventy-one per cent of students questioned by Jisc, the sector technology body, said they would be happy for data such as their library or virtual learning environment usage to be used by their university, if it could help to improve their grades. Twelve per cent said they would not.

Fifty-three per cent of the 240 students questioned said that they would be happy for the data to be used if it stopped them dropping out, with 23 per cent saying that they would not.

Learning analytics programmes are already in use at many universities across the UK, with sector leaders believing that they can help to identify and support students who are struggling, and that they can be used to teach students about which behaviours help them learn best.

But the survey suggests that students are less enthusiastic about having their engagement levels visualised in an app designed to encourage them to compete with classmates. Fifty-one per cent of respondents were against this idea, which is being considered by Jisc for its learning analytics project, and only a quarter were in favour.

Phil Richards, Jisc’s chief innovation officer, said that the results should encourage more universities to consider introducing learning analytics tools.

“My own personal experience is that a very high proportion of students support this once they have had it explained what it means and they have been reassured that it is being used to their benefit,” Dr Richards said. “Some of the less enthusiastic students may not have known precisely what data were being used for and I think this might underestimate the much higher proportion of students who become happy once they have received full reassurance and information.”

Jisc is developing a national learning analytics service, with a two-year pilot starting in May and a student app in development. More details will be shared at Digifest, for which Times Higher Education is media partner, in Birmingham on 2 and 3 March. 

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

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Print headline: Students favour use of learning analytics: Jisc

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