The Student Activity Meter

Type: Evidence | Proposition: B: Teaching | Polarity: | Sector: | Country:

SAM (Student Activity Meter) visualizes time spent on learning activities and resource use in online learning environments.

Teacher goals. SAM provides support for the following teacher objectives:

  • Awareness for teachers of what and how learners are doing is important to assess learner progress. This is difficult in online and distant courses due to lack of face-to-face communication. SAM provides visual overviews of the time learners spent and the resources they use. Both are good indicators for awareness. The visualizations can be used by teachers to find patterns and spot potential problems.
  • Time tracking  information allows teachers to assess their initial time estimates with the real time spending of students and find the exercises that consume most time.
  • The resource usage  can show the popular learning materials and enables resource discovery, through a list of most used or most time spent on resources in SAM.


Table of the Likert scale analysis of the teaching issues and the issues addressed by the tool (IQR=InterQuartile Range):

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Table of the Likert scale analysis of usefulness of the visualizations of the CGIAR case study (IQR=InterQuartile Range):

Table of the Likert scale analysis of usefulness of the visualizations of the CGIAR case study (IQR=InterQuartile Range)

The CGIAR case study shows that SAM contributes to creating awareness for teachers, as evidenced by the survey results. SAM meets the time tracking goal. The resource use can be improved by differentiating internal and online resources. Overall, teachers would like more statistics. SAM’s three visualizations were perceived as useful in the CGIAR case and 18 out of 20 teachers would like to use SAM in their own courses. This confirms that SAM provides useful functionality for teachers.


Citation: S. Govaerts, K. Verbert, and E. Duval. Evaluating the student activity meter: Two case studies. In H. Leung, E. Popescu, Y. Cao, R. Lau, and W. Nejdl, editors, Advances in Web-Based Learning - ICWL 2011, volume 7048 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pages 188-197. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2011. | Url: