ABLE Project – Achieving Benefits from LEarning analytics

What is Learning analytics?

Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs. It is an important development in the field of big data.

Why is Learning analytics useful?

Learning analytics is already being used to support learners and identify problems in Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), and it has been suggested that it will be widely adopted by universities in the next five years. We believe it has the potential to identify those students most at risk of early departure or of failing to achieve their academic potential, creating an opportunity to intervene and improve student outcomes.

From experience at Nottingham Trent University, knowing the information (and even displaying the information to students) does not automatically lead to changes in student behaviour or increased attainment; for that to happen, it appears that intelligent and coordinated staff input is required.

What will the ABLE Project deliver?

The ABLE Project will research strategies and practices for using learning analytics to support students during their first year at university. Our work will focus on both developing the technological aspects of LA and, more importantly, on how it can be used to actually support students.

The ABLE Project will:

  • Focus on the development of learning analytics to support the first year experience
  • Identify strategies for integrating institutional support around the data generated by LA
  • Strengthen our existing research into the first year experience and students in transition and transfer the outputs to LA interventions
  • Provide recommendations and resources for the sector

Why focus on first year students?

The first year of university is a time when students need to develop the core skills and approaches needed to be an effective learner in higher education, however for many there are difficulties adapting their approaches to the level of learning demanded.

Students struggle to understand the changes in rules and expectations, and can find it difficult to seek out support. With targeted LA interventions, struggling students could be motivated to seek support from their study counsellors and tutors in time to improve their outcomes.

What are the timescales for the project?

The ABLE Project is an Erasmus+ funded project running until August 2018.

How can I find out about the outcomes of the project?

We plan to disseminate findings in two broad phases, making project output material available via this website. The first phase will be the reports and literature reviews developed in 2015-16, these will be of interest to other colleagues commencing work on learning analytics or student transition at this time.

The second phase of reports will be published during the 2017-18 academic year. We will also be presenting findings at a number of conferences/workshops and national and European multiplier events. All these can be found on the Updates and Activities page.

Are there other projects supporting this work?

At Nottingham Trent University (NTU), the ABLE project is supported by the Trent Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT). TILT promotes excellence in learning and teaching and supports NTU’s strategic plan ‘Creating the University of the Future’. TILT has formed an institution-wide community of practice that recognises inspirational teaching at NTU, shares innovative practice and investigates emerging themes in learning and teaching. To find out more visit the TILT site.


Erasmus+ KA2 – Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices