Partner with educators to empower students to use learning data to set their own goals and measure their progress.

In the May 2021 post Using Canvas Analytics to Support Student Success I take a look at the Canvas Analytics tool and the ways in which both educators and students may use the data available in it to support student learning.   With Canvas Analytics, it’s possible to make learning analytic information viewable to students so that they are empowered to track their own progress and engagement in a course in real-time.

Student feedback is another way to gather data and elevate student voice in the learning process.  As is highlighted in the post Learning Analytics in Higher Education: What’s Working, University of Connecticut offers a great example of using student data to ultimately empower the student to take control of their own learning.  UC has developed a software suite in-house called Nexus that is designed to involve the entire campus community in improving student retention and success. Students can choose to log in to a UC campus application at any time to create study groups with classmates, schedule advising and tutoring appointments, and connect with mentors and other resources as needed. The university also occasionally asks students to fill out a short online survey when they log in to the app; the 60-second survey asks critical questions such as how they are doing and whether they are contemplating dropping out for any reason.  Thus, in this approach, students are able to volunteer data relevant to their learning needs and connect to available resources when it feels appropriate to them.

Finally, when it comes to measuring student progress in a course, we must also recognize the role of assessment.  The post Assessment in higher education during COVID-19 and beyond: Will it ever be the same? looks at the ways K-12 educators and higher education instructors began to change their approach to assessment as a result of rapid pivots to online teaching and learning formats.  In lieu of being able to carry on with “business as usual,” instructors began to move beyond the typical high stakes testing formats in favor of measuring student learning and progress in more varied, student-centered ways.  Suggestions for different types of assessment which empower students to set their own goals and measure their progress outside of a high-stakes cumulative exam include:

  1. Having students construct exam questions themselves as a way of reviewing and exercising higher order thinking skills; then, including many of the student questions on the exam.
  2. Creating collaborative projects or group tests
  3. Utilizing portfolios of work accumulated over the span of a full course
  4. Spending time reviewing exams to address misunderstandings and improve future performance and giving credit for thoughtfully corrected exams where learning is evident

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