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Analytics for tracking student engagement

Project leader(s): 
Christine Gardner

Although there has been much research in the area of data analytics in recent years (e.g. Shum and Ferguson 2012), there are questions regarding which analytic methodologies can be most effective in informing higher education teaching and learning practices (Gibson and de Freitas, 2016).

This project focuses on one module within the School of Computing and Communications in the STEM faculty to gain a clearer understanding on why students might, or might not, engage with computer aided learning and teaching (CALT) resources. We explore the use of specific CALT resources on the module ‘Communications Technology’, a print-based module with a range of online resources designed to supplement the text.

The research questions cover two key areas; the effectiveness of the analytics tools and students’ perception of the CALT resources.

Via data analytics we can review:

  • When the students engage with the CALT resources and whether this is at predicted times during the module.
  • Whether students revisit the CALT resources.

Via individual student feedback we can explore:

  • What motivates students to engage with CALT resources.
  • Whether students understand topic more deeply as a result of using CALT resources.
  • If students are deterred if the resources are too complicated/time consuming.

The findings should be of interest to module teams across many universities. This project will build on previous work undertaken in this area, e.g. Herodotou et al (2017) and Tempelaar et al (2017), and contribute to the wider body of knowledge in the area of data analytics. From an OU perspective, the findings should be of interest to those involved in other Level 3 modules in the IT and Computing degree programme i.e. TM351, TM352, TM353, TM354, TM356 and TM357.

Related resources

Gardner, C. (2021) Analytics for tracking student engagement. eSTEeM Final Report (PDF)

Gardner, C., Jones, A and Jefferis, H. (2020) Analytics for Tracking Student Engagement. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2020(1), article no. 22.  DOI:

Gardner, C., Jefferis, H. and Jones, A. (2019). Analytics for tracking student engagement. In: Blended and online education within European university networks. The Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference 2019 - Proceedings. (Ubachs, George and Joosten-Adriaanse, Fenna eds.) pp. 15–24. URL:

Christine Gardner, Allan Jones and David Chapman presentation