Use of a Learning Analytics "Progress Dashboard" to Increase Motivation in Online Surgical Sciences Students

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

PURPOSE: Online, distance learning courses present a particular challenge to instructors in enabling students to gauge their progress alongside that of their peers. Using learning analytics data captured from the virtual learning environment (VLE), creation of a student ‘progress dashboard’ addressed this challenge, and its impact was evaluated on our online MSc in Surgical Sciences programme.

METHODS: During the academic year 2014/15 of the Masters programme, a progress dashboard was created which included VLE metrics and assessment scores. A key feature of the dashboard is the interactive element, whereby a student selects their unique, confidential identification number from a drop-down list, and their data then become highlighted from the rest. An online, anonymous questionnaire was issued to students to gauge their perceptions of the dashboard. Student in-course assessment performance data were analysed pre- and post-introduction of the dashboard.

RESULTS : The dashboard acted as a conversation catalyst during tutor-student meetings; for a student to see where they rank in relation to their peers, and the class average, made for a more meaningful discussion on their progress. 91% of respondents found the data relating to their engagement in the MSc very useful (13/33) or somewhat useful (17/33). The top three verbs selected by students were ‘interested’, ‘encouraged’, and ‘motivated’ when describing how they felt when viewing the dashboard. Average marks for in-course assessment did not differ significantly before and after dashboard introduction (58±25% vs 59±27%, P=0.64 (n=487) in Year 1).

CONCLUSION: Presenting anonymized comparative progress data to students may increase learner motivation in online, distance learning programmes, especially true for surgical trainees who are naturally competitive. Progress dashboards cannot themselves influence academic performance and successful outcomes; rather they can be used as a catalyst to identify ‘at risk’ students, and affect interventions by programme teams, in order to facilitate achievement of their true potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S31
JournalMedical Science Educator
Early online date28 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016
EventInternational Association of Medical Science Educators Conference - Leiden, Netherlands
Duration: 4 Jun 20167 Jun 2016


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