Student Retention: Learner Analytics at Loughborough University

Photo of a brass compassThe JISC funded Pedestal for Progression project at Loughborough University has focussed on bringing together information from their in-house Co-Tutor dashboard and other systems to help tutors be pro-active in their response to “at risk” students.

Challenges

The project team found that having access to the data is not enough, there needs to be a balance between automated and human interventions, for example:

  • educational data mining is complex and will be unsuccessful if used solely to identify “at risk” students without human intervention processes being designed
  • incorporating more student-centred approaches into the development of exisiting systems (such as VLEs, student data systems, attendance recording systems etc) can be challenging
  • changes in processes and the introduction of new software systems can be seen as threatening to staff.

Benefits

The project team looked at both staff and student needs by:

  • using service design techniques to help identify learner needs, such as flexibility of study, planning of deadlines for coursework, and employability, for example
  • providing more and better quality learner information to help a tutor be more active in identifying and supporting “at risk” students; for example teaching sessions where attendance is taken electronically are designated as being “critical” or not, so e-mails are sent only to students missing “critical” sessions
  • developing a standardised process for managing placements across three departments in order to reduce student anxiety around the process.

Recommendations

The relationships that students have with staff are vital to the enhancement of the student experience, but the relationships that staff have within in the organisation are also important. For example:

  • provide staff with access to learner data to help them identify any human interventions that need to be made
  • use the student voice to influence improvements
  • sincere management buy-in is critical, otherwise an institution’s organisational structure will remain a barrier no matter what improvements are suggested.

Further Information

If you would like to find out more about this project, the following resources may help:

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