Students as Lead Designers of Learning Analytics Dashboards: Lessons learned in a Northern Irish University

Proceedings of ‏The 2nd International Conference on Research in Teaching and Education

Year: 2020


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Students as Lead Designers of Learning Analytics Dashboards: Lessons learned in a Northern Irish University

Paul Joseph-Richard and Andrew Jaffrey



There is an increasing scholarly and practitioner interest in developing user-centered, personalized learning analytics (LA) dashboards in higher education institutions, to support student success and improve learning and teaching. In most implementation efforts, however, an academic, teacher-centric, institutional view tends to drive dashboard designs, while using students only as data providers. We stretched our engagement approach by empowering them as lead-designers of LA dashboards to learn what data they would like presented and how.  Using a novel cord sorting technique, we asked 42 Northern Irish university students to construct dashboards that reflect their priorities and concerns. Using observation, photography and semi-structured interviews, we collected data on student-generated dashboards. Content analysis revealed a strong preference for the inclusion of personal financial data (money spent so far vs resources utilized), and exclusion of social media data. Thematic analysis of qualitative data uncovered within-group variations in students’ LA related assumptions and beliefs, particularly between undergraduates and postgraduates, and between international and home students. Participants challenged institutional overreliance on measurable digital footprints as proxies for academic success and emphasized the need for including success stories of their peers and seniors, in future dashboards. In advocating story-integrated LA dashboards, we call for designs that better reflect learners’ everyday needs and priorities.  We provide a caution that offering genuine control and oversight to students in LA, despite being useful, might be more complex than currently assumed in the literature.We discuss pedagogical implications for teachers, LA designers and researchers in advancing student-led LA designs.

Keywords: personalization; student-led design; learner engagement; customized design, dashboards.