The student study experience – analysing student study choices

Edwards, Chris and Gaved, Mark (2020). The student study experience – analysing student study choices. In: 29th EDEN (European Distance Education Network) Annual Conference 2020 - Human and Artificial Intelligence for the Society of the Future, 21-24 Jun 2020, Politehnica University, Timisoara, Romania.


As higher education institutions increasingly teach online and offer greater levels of choice to students (over which modules to study, in which order to study, and how long to extend study before qualification) new challenges are introduced. One of these challenges is how to maintain an understanding of the student experience. This understanding is necessary to provide feedback to both students and faculty, and institutionally for the continued enhancement of quality. This paper is the first attempt at providing a narrative describing one approach to this challenge and the experience within a large distance learning University. It demonstrates a new approach to data is key to enabling the analysis of student study pathways. For many years, this University has offered great flexibility of study and as wide a study choice as it is possible to offer with conventional modules. By design, the Institution holds high levels of data for all student study. However, whilst it is possible to create bespoke queries, we found that this has been insufficient to readily enable analysis of the student experience. By moving from a traditional relational database structure to a multi-model database, many of the difficulties are resolved. In this paper, we report on this approach and describe next steps, including the potential to apply machine learning algorithms and test other data theories like that of Markov Chains.

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