Keeping Students On-Track in Multi-week Projects via Learning Analytics Feedback

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Marek Hatala, SIAT

Project team: Ladan Fathi and Sina Nazeri, research assistants

Timeframe: December 2017 to April 2019

Funding: $6000

Courses addressed:

  • IAT 352 – Internet Computing Technologies
  • IAT 265 – Programming for Multimedia

Final report: View Marek Hatala's final report (PDF)

Description: Many students in SIAT programming courses are engaging with assignments too close to the deadline, despite prompting and encouragement from instructors to engage sooner. As time management and work breakdown structure are essential software engineering skills, scaffolding these skills within smaller and shorter assignments does not let students experience the “real world” challenge of proper organization and project management.

I plan to create a scaffold for assignment activity in Canvas that will i) break the description of the assignments into components that are trackable by a Canvas logging mechanism; ii) use log data to generate an informative visual feedback of student engagement with the assignments for their reflection; iii) use a randomized control group study design to compare how students engage with the assignments both with and without the visual feedback.

I am hypothesizing that those students who view their feedback will engage with assignments earlier than students in the control group, and that their scores on the assignments will be higher.

In the analysis, I will consider other factors that might be influencing procrastination behaviour. I will collect the time management metric (via an existing survey instrument, tbd) for all students at the beginning of the study and their grades from a prior programming course.

Questions addressed:

  • Will students who are provided assignment feedback improve their time management, engage with activities in a timely manner, and improve their marks as compared to students in a control group?
  • What are students’ opinions on the usefulness and effectiveness of the feedback tool?
  • What are the implications for the redesign of the feedback tool?

Knowledge sharing: The report will be shared with the colleagues, short presentation in the school meeting and in depth one-on-one demonstration and discussion for those interested to learn more. I have shown the work and results in individual meetings at the e-learning analytics conference in March 2019. The formal paper is being prepared for submission to Journal of Learning Analytics. I have also submitted a proposal for a Lightning Round presentation at SFU's Annual Symposium on Teaching and Learning in May 2019.

Hatala, M. (2019, May). Using learning analytics for instructors’ insights and data-driven teaching intervention. Presentation at the 17th Symposium on Teaching and Learning, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC.   

Keywords: assignments, time management, personalized feedback, instructor dashboard, learning analytics, trace methodology