Do Students Really Want to Know? Investigating the Relationship between Learning Analytics Dashboards and Student Motivation

Danny Toohey, Tanya J. McGill, Chad Berkelaar, Ananth Kadekodi, Dominika Kaminska, Melisa Lianto, Nathan Power
InSITE 2019  •  2019  •  pp. 321-332
Aim/Purpose: The aim of this project was to explore the perceptions of information technology students about student-facing learning analytics dashboards that display ranking information, and whether they perceive that their motivation to study would be influenced by the use of dashboards that display their performance relative to other students.

Background: While there has been a focus on the use of learning analytics dashboards by academics to inform their teaching, there has not been as much exploration of the use of student-facing dashboards, nor on the effect that students believe these dashboards will have on their motivation to study.

Methodology: The research surveyed students enrolled in Information Technology courses at an Australian university. Data about students’ academic motivation was gathered using a short, online survey.

Contribution: The paper adds to knowledge of the impact on students of student-facing learning analytics dashboards.

Findings: A majority of students (63%) would like to see their cohort-ranking via a dashboard, though a large majority (91%) preferred that their ranking not be made available to other students. Students who were highly motivated to study were more likely to wish to have their ranking made available via dashboards. Those students who viewed a dashboard showing them as highly ranked relative to the unit average for an assignment were significantly more likely to be more motivated to study in this unit than those who were shown to be ranked well below the average.

Recommendations for Practitioners: Although students were generally in favor of their cohort ranking being made available using dashboards, universities should proceed with caution when implementing these student-facing dashboards because of the potential for demotivating students.

Recommendations for Researchers: Further investigation of the reasons why students do not wish to have their rankings made available via dashboards is needed.

Impact on Society: This research contributes to the body of knowledge regarding student motivation and its relationship with student-facing learning analytics dashboards.

Future Research Given the complexity of the issues investigated, more research is needed in this area.
learning analytics dashboards, student motivation
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