Evidence of the month: Learning Analytics in Higher Education


Each month, we highlight one of the new additions to the LACE Evidence Hub, which brings together evidence about learning analytics. You are welcome to add to the Hub site, which you can visit via the ‘Outcomes’ tab at the top of this page. The evidence of the month for April 2016 {posted here slightly late because the LACE team were busy at LAK16) is a report from Jisc, ‘Learning Analytics in Higher Education: A Review of UK and International Practice’.

This report documents the emerging uses of learning analytics in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. Through a series of 11 case studies, it presents an overview of the evidence currently available of the impact that analytics are having on teaching and learning – and highlights some of the opportunities for the UK higher education sector.

The report was commissioned by Jisc, which is currently working with 50 universities in the UK to set up a national learning analytics service for higher and further education.

Although learning analytics are still at a relatively early stage of development, this report finds that there is convincing evidence from early adopters that they will help to improve outcomes.

The case studies presented in the report provide a snapshot of some of the most prominent institution-level learning analytics initiatives worldwide. Together they provide evidence that:

  • researchers have demonstrated the validity of the predictive models used by learning analytics systems
  • interventions carried out with students have been effective
  • there are other benefits to taking a more data-driven approach to higher education provision

Extrapolating from current practice, in the UK and internationally, the authors anticipate that learning analytics could make significant contributions:

  • As a tool for quality assurance and quality improvement
  • As a tool for boosting retention rates
  • As a tool for assessing and acting upon differential outcomes among the student population
  • As an enabler for the development and introduction of adaptive learning


Sclater, N., Peasgood, A. & Mullan, J. (2016). Learning Analytics in Higher Education: A Review of UK and International Practice. Jisc, Bristol. https://www.jisc.ac.uk/sites/default/files/learning-analytics-in-he-v2_0.pdf

The full case studies, with references, are available at http://bit.ly/1WczdOn


About Author

Rebecca is a lecturer at The Open University in the UK, focused on educational futures, learning analytics, MOOCs, augmented learning and online social learning. She is a member of the steering committee of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) and was Workshops Chair of the second Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference (LAK 2012). She co-chaired the 1st and 2nd International Workshops on Discourse-Centric Learning Analytics, held in Belgium and the US, as well as the first UK SoLAR Flare (a national learning analytics event). Her most recent publication is the book ‘Augmented Education’, published by Palgrave in May 2014. Rebecca is working on the LACE work package relating to learning analytics in higher education.

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