Can learning analytics help more students succeed?

Learning analytics can hold the key to increasing student retention – but there are both legal and ethical pitfalls. An administrative Circle U. working group explores some of these in a new white paper.

Students at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo. Photo: Jarli & Jordan/UiO.

Improving student retention has long been a Holy Grail for universities all over Europe. In an increasingly digital age, more and more institutions have begun to harness data in order to reach this goal of ensuring that more students finish their programs.

Learning analytics is one of the key concepts in this regard. Administrative offices with some of the Circle U. partners have already made forays into this area by collecting and analysing student data in order to see if and how they can be used in a meaningful way to predict student outcomes.

The next step would be to use these predictions to intervene – for example by approaching students who are deemed to be in risk of attrition, and offering targeted counselling. 

Beware the pitfalls

As the white paper states, the data involved in learning analytics can be both personal background data about the students, behavioral data from learning management systems, etc.

This means that there are obvious legal and ethical considerations that need to be made when gathering and analysing student data. Transparency and consent are some of the key words in this respect, since students should be aware why and how their data are being collected and utilised. 

Where to go from here?

The objective of the white paper has been to establish a common foundation for Circle U. partners to continue the collaboration on learning analytics in university administration. The next step for the working group would be to attempt testing and sharing different patterns to identify which types of data can predict student outcomes. 

Read the white paper

Legal and Ethical Aspects of Using Learning Analytics – From a University Perspective (pdf)


If you want to get involved or learn more about the Circle U. efforts in learning analytics, contact Trine Kaalby Bjerre Gjøderum,

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Published Sep. 13, 2022 12:37 PM - Last modified Sep. 28, 2022 2:40 PM