Curious About Learning Analytics?

You may have heard a lot of buzz about learning analytics, but can analytics really help students learn more effectively?

Come hear Dr. Samuel Van Horne share his insights about how his team at the University of Iowa has been using analytics to aid student learning. Van Horne is the second guest lecturer in the TEACHxperts series and will be on campus on March 7, 2017.

  • Sign up for Van Horne’s brownbag talk. He’ll discuss how his team developed an app to improve student performance in large enrollment STEM courses (chemistry in particular).
  • Sign up for Van Horne’s afternoon workshop called “I’ve Found the Haystack, Now What?: Getting Started with Learning Analytics.” In this workshop, Van Horne will talk about how to get started using data that instructors can access from their own Canvas courses here at Northwestern. Bring your questions for Van Horne, as he will address the particular needs of instructors. Take an afternoon break and share refreshments as we all explore the world of learning analytics.

Van Horne is the Assessment Director at the University of Iowa. His research interests include active learning classrooms, large lecture transformation, and learning analytics. Check out his Twitter feed for the latest updates on his work.

For a sample of some of the topics Dr. Van Horne will cover in his talks, we asked him to answer a few preliminary questions to set the stage for the discussion:

What do you see as the biggest benefit of using learning analytics for a faculty member?

Perhaps the biggest benefit is that they receive far fewer questions from students about their current grade and what grade they are likely to achieve because Elements of Success has visualizations that address these questions.

When and how did you first adopt learning analytics?

In Fall 2014 we successfully introduced Elements of Success into our large-enrollment, introductory chemistry course after working closely with chemistry faculty on designing the dashboard and the predictive models.

What was the biggest change you saw for the chemistry students who use the Elements of Success app?

The biggest change we observed was students’ increased knowledge of their current performance level and their appreciation of our estimates of their final grades. This helped them make decisions about the goals they wanted to achieve in the course.

For faculty interested but unsure where to start, what’s a great way to get your feet wet with analytics? 

First, I would have them read the article “Who Gets to Graduate?” from New York Times Magazine (it was published a few years ago). It provides a great example of how analytics are used to target interventions to a group of students. Then I would suggest that they talk to university staff member (such as someone in a teaching center) who can help them think about instructional activities that could be augmented with access to data about student performance. These discussions can often help an instructor think about how learning analytics could be applied in their own context.  

Join us on March 7 as we explore learning analytics with Sam Van Horne.