A Resource-Constrained Approach to Implementing Analytics in an Institution of Higher Education

Type: Evidence | Proposition: C: Uptake | Polarity: | Sector: | Country:

An all-out approach to the implementation of learning analytics across an institution will encounter many problems. This case study suggests that academic institutions intending to undertake analytics should use a multi-phased approach. This involves undertaking small LA initiatives based on one or a few courses, using existing learning management system (LMS) tools to determine (given existing constraints) the optimal set of procedures for communication, intervention, and help in order to maximise student performance and retention. Based on the institution’s experience of these small initiatives, analytics can be scaled up across the institution.

This paper describes the constraints that precluded a successful completion of our analytics initiative and how the authors re‐envisioned their approach and scope to achieve their primary goals while operating within the constraints and tools associated with their academic environment.

Previous research

Greller and Drachsler identified six dimensions of a learning analytics initiative that impact upon its success.

(1) stakeholders

(2) objectives

(3) data

(4) instruments

(5) external constraints

(6) internal limitations.

Case study reported in this paper

By identifying students at risk of performing poorly and by providing them with necessary help and attention, it was expected that their academic performance and consequently successful completion of their academic programmes, could be achieved.

A top‐down approach was used to plan the various phases of the initiative and implement them using an approach familiar to the initiative managers in the IT support services department.

The study identifies problems with the original implementation of this plan, using the six dimensions set out above. The biggest constraints were internal, particularly the lack of staff with the expertise to produce the required datasets in a timely manner,

Following this analysis, the initiative was redefined, with the aim of achieving a few noticeable results at departmental level in the form of improved student retention and performance. This was more manageable and more successful.



Citation: Buerck, John P, & Mudigonda, Srikanth P. (2014). A resource‐constrained approach to implementing analytics in an institution of higher education: an experience report. Journal of Learning Analytics, 1(1), 129-139. | Url: http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/JLA/issue/view/307

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