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LT faculty and graduate students publish in journal The Internet and Higher Education

“Fostering student engagement in online discussion through social learning analytics”, authored by LT’s Bodong Chen, Yu-Hui Chang, and Fan Ouyang, was recently published in The Internet and Higher Education.
This paper reports on the initial stage of a design-based research program that aims to devise student-facing social learning analytics in a postsecondary setting. In order to foster student discussion in online classes, we devised an analytics toolkit that turns discussion forum data into information for students to reflect upon. The first pilot study conducted in an online course showed both early promises and challenges with this effort. In particular, students reported usefulness of the toolkit for monitoring posting behaviors and setting participation goals. Content analysis of post content linked tool usage with students’ increased attempts to solicit peer responses to their posts and increased reflection on individual participation. However, the tool was not found useful or easy to use by some students, and it did not show benefits in other aspects of online discussion, such as crafting stronger argumentation or reflecting on group processes. These findings highlight the need of social learning analytics to strive for tool simplicity, scaffold students’ development in data literacy, and bring analytics and pedagogical designs into close coordination.