Research Evidence on the Use of Learning Analytics: Implications for Education Policy

Ferguson, Rebecca; Brasher, Andrew; Clow, Doug; Cooper, Adam; Hillaire, Garron; Mittelmeier, Jenna; Rienties, Bart; Ullmann, Thomas and Vuorikari, Riina (2016). Research Evidence on the Use of Learning Analytics: Implications for Education Policy. Science for Policy Reports; Joint Research Centre, Seville, Spain.



The evidence shows that the use of learning analytics to improve and to innovate learning and teaching in Europe is still in its infancy. The high expectations have not yet been realised. Though early adopters are already taking a lead in research and development, the evidence on practice and successful implementation is still scarce. Furthermore, though the work across Europe on learning analytics is promising, it is currently fragmented.

This underlines the need for a careful build-up of research and experimentation, with both practice and policies that have a unified European vision. Therefore, the study suggests that work is needed to make links between learning analytics, the beliefs and values that underpin this field, and European priority areas for education and training 2020. As a way of guiding the discussion about further development in this area, the Action List for Learning Analytics is proposed.

The Action List for Learning Analytics focuses on seven areas of activity. It outlines a set of actions for educators, researchers, developers and policymakers in which learning analytics are used to drive work in Europe’s priority areas for education and training. Strategic work should take place to ensure that each area is covered, that there is no duplication of effort, that teams are working on all actions and that their work proceeds in parallel.

Policy leadership and governance practices
•Develop common visions of learning analytics that address strategic objectives and priorities
•Develop a roadmap for learning analytics within Europe
•Align learning analytics work with different sectors of education
•Develop frameworks that enable the development of analytics
•Assign responsibility for the development of learning analytics within Europe
•Continuously work on reaching common understanding and developing new priorities

Institutional leadership and governance practices
•Create organisational structures to support the use of learning analytics and help educational leaders to implement these changes
•Develop practices that are appropriate to different contexts
•Develop and employ ethical standards, including data protection

Collaboration and networking
•Identify and build on work in related areas and other countries
•Engage stakeholders throughout the process to create learning analytics that have useful features
•Support collaboration with commercial organisations

Teaching and learning practices
•Develop learning analytics that makes good use of pedagogy
•Align analytics with assessment practices

Quality assessment and assurance practices
•Develop a robust quality assurance process to ensure the validity and reliability of tools
•Develop evaluation checklists for learning analytics tools

Capacity building
•Identify the skills required in different areas
•Train and support researchers and developers to work in this field
•Train and support educators to use analytics to support achievement

•Develop technologies that enable development of analytics
•Adapt and employ interoperability standards

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