Learning Analytics at Aberystwyth University

What is Learning Analytics?

Increasingly, Universities are using data from the IT systems they run (for example attendance monitoring, virtual learning environment (VLE) or Library management systems) to provide a means of enhancing learning and teaching and maximising student potential. This use of data, known as "Learning Analytics", aims to improve student outcomes, progression, retention and satisfaction by providing more targeted support for students and raising the student's awareness of their level of engagement. In this sense its use is formative. It also aims to better understand and improve the University’s educational processes and environment. In their recent report, From Bricks to Clicks, the Higher Education Commission concluded that analytics had "enormous potential to improve the student experience at university".

This document sets out the responsibilities of Aberystwyth University to ensure that learning analytics is carried out responsibly, appropriately and effectively. Aberystwyth University are working in partnership with our students in the development of learning analytics.

What is Aberystwyth University doing with Learning Analytics?

Aberystwyth University is embarking on a Learning Analytics project and will be utilising some student data from its IT systems as part of this. The University makes students generally aware of this data use at the point of registration https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/infocompliance/dp/declaration/ 

The University adheres to the existing data protection principles as covered by the Data Protection Act, is committed to respecting privacy and is committed to using personal information sensitively. Data will only be used for learning analytics where there is likely to be an expected benefit to students’ learning. Where this data is shared with third parties (e.g. cloud based services), organisations working with student information on behalf of the University are all bound by data protection legislation and strict contractual terms.

Please note that the University will not use all of the information we hold about you for learning analytics purposes; for example, we will not make use of information you may choose to provide about your religion and sexual orientation as it is restricted under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Access to student data and analytics will be restricted to those identified by the institution as having a legitimate need to view them. Tutors and other appropriate University staff (e.g. departmental administrator, Director of Undergraduate or Postgraduate Studies) will be allowed access to students’ data in order to provide appropriate support.

In conclusion, the University is adopting the following principles in the development of learning analytics:

  • Formative – learning analytics will be used to improve the student experience and outcomes
  • Partnership – working with students and the Students Union
  • Transparency – students will have access to their data
  • Trust – your data will be protected

What does this mean for me?

You will see more information in your student record about your use of University IT systems and engagement like attendance monitoring and AberLearn Blackboard usage. The University is committed to transparency, where feasible providing students with access to the same data that staff have access to. Students have the right to correct inaccurate personal data held about themselves. 

What data will be used?

Data sources will include (but not limited to) the following:

  • Attendance data:  The system that records attendance at lectures, seminars and other activities. 
  • AStRA:  This is the core student record system containing. personal details and your academic record
  • AberLearn Blackboard data: Data logs record when and how students have used the VLE
  • Library data: Information recorded as part of students’ interactions with the libraries and learning resources.