Information is not enough

It was this realisation that helped me focus my research interests for my MA from the wide field of learning analytics, to Learning Analytic Dashboards (LAD).

Over the years at Training-by-Eos, the accountancy tuition company I co-founded to teach the ICAEW Case Study exam, we developed pages of information to answer the question “Why did I fail my mock exam?” The marking key is complicated, so we explained it. The various mathematical ways to pass are complicated, so we explained them. There are 40 boxes on the marking key, keeping the same structure over every exam but with changing detail – we explained every one of them, for every exam.

But the question was still asked, every time. “Why did I fail my mock exam?”

So data is not enough, and explaining is not enough. But there is another factor, and it took me a while to spot the obvious – human behaviour.

Earlier this year I was tasked with designing a LAD for Training-by-Eos students. I spent weeks reading academic papers and putting together a presentation. A week before delivery, from quite another conversation, a fellow MA student recommended Morten Munster’s book “I’m Afraid Debbie From Marketing Has Left for the Day: How to Use Behavioural Design to Create Change in the Real World” I read it in a day, and spent the next day redesigning the presentation.

It was this that stood out for me. The Training-by-Eos team spend hours working on the marking feedback in a System 2 environment, but the students receiving it are fitting studying for a professional qualification in around a high responsibility corporate job and the pressures of life. They are in System 1 mode; our LAD – and learning design overall – had to reflect that. Our LAD is now 2 pages, with cumulative graphics and a clear ‘next steps’ section. Part of my PhD will be continuing to improve the design, assess its effectiveness, and understand the key factors in LAD success.

Munster’s is a fascinating book and an easy read – my copy is covered in notes and highlighting. I was organised enough to type up key points so if you’d like further insight / my version of the Cliff Notes you can download them here:

Published by sarahjalcock

PhD researcher at the Open University with a focus on Learning Analytics and Learning Design. Follow me on Twitter @SarahAlcock19. Author text is licenced under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA

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