Using Learning Analytics to Innovate

FIU Online’s monthly Instructor Webinar series explores relevant instructional strategies and effective uses of technology in an online classroom. The More You Know: Using Learning Analytics to Cultivate, Substantiate, and Innovate explores different ways that instructors can use analytics tools to their advantage; from identifying at-risk students, to understanding the effectiveness of their own course design.

Instant Replay: The More You Know

Using Learning Analytics to Cultivate, Substantiate, and Innovate

The October 2020 webinar gives insight into what to do when students start veering off-course, and instructors are left wondering whether their course design is serving its purpose. According to FIU’s Learning Design Innovation Manager, Maikel Alendy, the answer is analytics. Basically, how instructors can use data to learn about what is going on in the classroom.

Instructors at FIU have access to learning analytics tools, which are integrated directly with Canvas. The three main resources detailed in the webinar, include, Canvas (New) Analytics and Quiz statistics. Each resource supports different insights into course design, but when combined, they give a complete understanding of what, where and how to integrate for a better learning environment.

All About website provides a graph, which can be generated for each course. The graph depicts how well students are doing in the class (y-axis) based on how much time they are spending in the course (x-axis). Therefore, there are four results: low grades and low interaction, low grades and high interaction, high grades and low interaction, and high grades and high interaction.

Research shows that students who spend more time actively engaged in a course tend to have higher grades. It is expected to see those student clusters on the graph with high interaction/high grades and those with low interaction/low grades. Where instructors can learn is in the high grade/low interaction and low grade/high interaction groups. An instructor can flag the former for three reasons: potential academic integrity violations, unhelpful Canvas resources, or simply a course that relies on external resources, like textbooks or articles. The latter indicates that certain students are having trouble with the course material, despite their high interaction, so reaching out to those students and providing additional Canvas resources is a common solution.

New Analytics in Canvas

New Analytics paints a more specific picture than It summarizes course information through chunks of time, instead of through a single comprehensive graph. In New Analytics, there are three tabs to focus on: Course Grade, Weekly Online Activity, and Students. Course Grade gives the average grade of the class, based on assignments, discussions and quizzes. Instructors can also filter through specific sections, students or assignments, if preferred.

Canvas Analytics example: average course grade

Weekly Online Activity compares average page views to average participation, detailing when students are more engaged in the course. For instance, some students will only log into the course when an assignment is due, whereas other students have consistent participation. If students are not accessing resources but receiving high grades, consider changing the page. Alternatively, if students are glossing over information and making mistakes because they skipped content, then consider making the content required on Canvas. New Analytics is helpful to recognize if the material uploaded to Canvas is relevant to student success.

Canvas Analytics example: weekly online activity

Finally, the Students tab gives an overview of each student’s engagement with the course material. The tool details student grades, on-time submission percentage, latest participation, latest page view, total number of page views, and total number of participations. Similar to, instructors can determine which students might need additional help, who is lacking, or if there are any academic violation concerns.

Canvas Analytics example: students tab

Research has been conducted, which found that academic integrity quizzes are helpful in decreasing violations for up to 14 days. Alendy suggests including questions or acknowledgements on quizzes and assignments to enforce student accountability.

Quiz Statistics

Quiz statistics is a learning analytics tool embedded directly into quizzes. It populates analytics automatically for quizzes under 100 questions and with less than 1,000 respondents. From the menu, instructors will see the average score, highest and lowest scores, standard deviation and average time to complete. 

Scrolling down the page, instructors can then use the Question Breakdown section to see how students answered each question. The questions will be accompanied by a discrimination index, which measures how high-scoring students answered versus lower-scoring students. If Canvas highlights the index red, then instructors should flag the content. Either the question was too difficult and can be eliminated, or the answer may have been coded incorrectly.

Canvas quiz statistics: discrimination index
Canvas quiz statistics: discrimination index explanation

Paving the Path for Informed Teaching

The learning analytics detailed in this webinar give teachers the tools to understand their course and students. Alendy suggests incentivizing students to log into the course throughout the week, so they feel comfortable accessing the information needed to succeed in their classes and beyond.

Alendy concludes his webinar with inspiration to fellow instructors: “Analytics doesn’t promise, it proves.” Learning analytics tools bring FIU’s quality teaching a step further to account for informed teaching, as well.

More on Informed Teaching

Learning analytics is just one way that FIU instructors can take advantage of the resources available to them. Stay up to date on past and future Instructor Webinars to gather more insight from fellow FIU instructors. In the meantime, check out the following Instructor Webinar recaps from FIU Insider’s archive:

Mary was on the HyFlex Instructional Design team at FIU in 2020-2021. After graduating from McGill University in 2019 with a bachelor’s in international development studies and psychology, Mary went on to get her master’s in journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She graduated in May 2020 and went on to work as an Instructional Designer for New York Medical College, which launched her into the position at FIU. As a recent student, Mary believes in the student experience and enjoys creating course designs that remain user-friendly and engaging for instructors and students alike.

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