New Research Publications in Learning Analytics

Three of my journal articles got published recently, two on learning analytics/ writing analytics implementations [Learning Analytics Special Issue in The Internet and Higher Education journal], and one on a text analysis method [Educational Technology Research and Development journal]. that I worked on earlier (many years ago in fact, which just got published!).

Article 1: Educator Perspectives on Learning Analytics in Classroom Practice

The first one is predominantly qualitative in nature, based on instructor interviews of their experiences in using Learning Analytics tools such as the automated Writing feedback tool AcaWriter. It provides a practical account of implementing learning analytics in authentic classroom practice from the voices of educators. Details below:

Abstract: Failing to understand the perspectives of educators, and the constraints under which they work, is a hallmark of many educational technology innovations’ failure to achieve usage in authentic contexts, and sustained adoption. Learning Analytics (LA) is no exception, and there are increasingly recognised policy and implementation challenges in higher education for educators to integrate LA into their teaching. This paper contributes a detailed analysis of interviews with educators who introduced an automated writing feedback tool in their classrooms (triangulated with student and tutor survey data), over the course of a three-year collaboration with researchers, spanning six semesters’ teaching. It explains educators’ motivations, implementation strategies, outcomes, and challenges when using LA in authentic practice. The paper foregrounds the views of educators to support cross-fertilization between LA research and practice, and discusses the importance of cultivating educators’ and students’ agency when introducing novel, student-facing LA tools.

Keywords: learning analytics; writing analytics; participatory research; design research; implementation; educator

Citation and article link: Antonette Shibani, Simon Knight and Simon Buckingham Shum (2020). Educator Perspectives on Learning Analytics in Classroom Practice [Author manuscript]. The Internet and Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2020.100730. [Publisher’s free download link valid until 8 May 2020].

Article 2: Implementing Learning Analytics for Learning Impact: Taking Tools to Task

The second one led by Simon Knight provides a broader framing for how we define impact in learning analytics. It defines a model addressing the key challenges in LA implementations based on our writing analytics example. Details below:

Abstract: Learning analytics has the potential to impact student learning, at scale. Embedded in that claim are a set of assumptions and tensions around the nature of scale, impact on student learning, and the scope of infrastructure encompassed by ‘learning analytics’ as a socio-technical field. Drawing on our design experience of developing learning analytics and inducting others into its use, we present a model that we have used to address five key challenges we have encountered. In developing this model, we recommend: A focus on impact on learning through augmentation of existing practice; the centrality of tasks in implementing learning analytics for impact on learning; the commensurate centrality of learning in evaluating learning analytics; inclusion of co-design approaches in implementing learning analytics across sites; and an attention to both social and technical infrastructure.

Keywords: learning analytics, implementation, educational technology, learning design

Citation and article link:  Simon Knight, Andrew Gibson and Antonette Shibani (2020). Implementing Learning Analytics for Learning Impact: Taking Tools to Task. The Internet and Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2020.100729.

Article 3: Identifying patterns in students’ scientific argumentation: content analysis through text mining using LDA

The third one led by Wanli Xing discusses the use of Latent Dirichlet Allocation, a text mining method to study argumentation patterns in student writing (in an unsupervised way). Details below:

Abstract: Constructing scientific arguments is an important practice for students because it helps them to make sense of data using scientific knowledge and within the conceptual and experimental boundaries of an investigation. In this study, we used a text mining method called Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) to identify underlying patterns in students written scientific arguments about a complex scientific phenomenon called Albedo Effect. We further examined how identified patterns compare to existing frameworks related to explaining evidence to support claims and attributing sources of uncertainty. LDA was applied to electronically stored arguments written by 2472 students and concerning how decreases in sea ice affect global temperatures. The results indicated that each content topic identified in the explanations by the LDA— “data only,” “reasoning only,” “data and reasoning combined,” “wrong reasoning types,” and “restatement of the claim”—could be interpreted using the claim–evidence–reasoning framework. Similarly, each topic identified in the students’ uncertainty attributions— “self-evaluations,” “personal sources related to knowledge and experience,” and “scientific sources related to reasoning and data”—could be interpreted using the taxonomy of uncertainty attribution. These results indicate that LDA can serve as a tool for content analysis that can discover semantic patterns in students’ scientific argumentation in particular science domains and facilitate teachers’ providing help to students.

Keywords: text mining, latent dirichlet allocation, educational data mining, scientific argumentation

Citation and article link:  Wanli Xing, Hee-Sun Lee and Antonette Shibani (2020). Identifying patterns in students’ scientific argumentation: content analysis through text mining using Latent Dirichlet Allocation. Educational Technology Research and Development. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-020-09761-w.

Notes: Visualizing sequential patterns for text mining

Reference:

Wong, P. C., Cowley, W., Foote, H., Jurrus, E., & Thomas, J. (2000). Visualizing sequential patterns for text mining. In Information Visualization, 2000. InfoVis 2000. IEEE Symposium on (pp. 105-111). IEEE.

Background:

  • Mining Sequential patterns aims to identify recurring patterns from data over a period of time.
  • A pattern is a finite series of elements from the same domain A -> B -> C -> D
  • Each pattern has a minimum ‘support’ value which indicates the percentage of pattern occurrence. (E.g. 90% of people who did this process, did the second process, followed by the third process)
  • Sequential pattern vs association rule:
    • Sequential pattern – studies ordering/arrangement of elements E.g. A -> B -> C -> D
    • Association rule – studies togetherness E.g. A+B+C -> D

Purpose:

  • Presenting a visual data mining system that combines pattern discovery and visualizations.

Method:

Datasets:

Open source corpus containing 1170 news articles from 1991 to 1997 and harvested news of 1990 from TREC5 distribution.

Pre-processing:

  1. Topic Extraction: Identifies the topic in documents based on the co-occurrence of words. Words separated by white space evaluated – stemming done, prepositions, pronouns, adjectives, and gerunds ignored.
  2. Multiresolution binning: Bins articles with the same timestamp (E.g. Binning by day, week, month, year)

Discovery of sequential patterns by Visualization:

  • Plotting topics/ topic combinations over time.
  • Strength: Can quickly view overall patterns and individual occurrence of events.
  • Weakness: No knowledge on exact connections that make up the pattern and statistical support on the individual patterns.

Discovery of sequential patterns by Data mining:

  • Building patterns on n-ary tree with elements as nodes.
  • Patterns are valid if the support value is greater than threshold.
  • A sample pattern mining from given input data is given in Figure 2 of the paper.
  • Strength: Provides accurate statistical (support) values for all weak and strong patterns.
  • Weakness: Loses temporal and locality information, large number of patterns produced in text format making human interpretation harder.

Visual Data Mining system:

visual-data-mining

  • Combining visualization and data mining to compensate each others’ weaknesses (Refer Figure 4 & 5 in the paper to see the pattern visualizations).
  • Binning resolution can be changed to see different patterns based on day, week, month, year etc.
  • Patterns associated to a particular topic can be picked.

Result/Discussion:

  • Strength of pattern is not easily identifiable from the visualization without statistical measures. Pattern mining gets enhanced by graphical encoding with spatial and temporal information.
  • Knowledge discovery by humans is aided by combining statistical data mining and visualization.

Future Work:

  • Handling larger data sets using secondary memory support and improve display.
  • Integrating more techniques like association rules into visual data mining environment.