With the advancements of technology and digital courseware tools, you have access to more learning data than ever before. However, that data isn’t much help if it’s not actionable.

A recent report by Digital Promise, Every Learner Everywhere, and Tyton Partners surveyed more than 4,000 instructors during the shift to remote instruction in the spring of 2020. 50% of faculty noted that they adjusted learning outcomes and modified grading approaches because of the shift they made. According to the report, as we move forward “the need for student learning assessment, adaptive and personalized learning pathways, and academic support services is expected to increase.” Furthermore, for faculty in high-enrollment courses, understanding how to use learning data to intervene and support struggling students is increasingly important.

High-quality courseware can provide you with easy-to-use tools that allow faculty to intervene and support students with actionable insights based on learning data.

How to Leverage Digital Courseware to Gain Actionable Data to Help Students

Here are three ways courseware can provide actionable insights for you to help students succeed:

1. Low-stakes practice assessments and timely feedback for students: One advantage of digital course materials is their ability to provide students with various types of low-stakes practice assessments with immediate, targeted feedback throughout their learning experience. Video, practice questions, simulations, and other learning activities designed to help students master the content all generate insights into learning for students and faculty.

Research shows that learning by doing (e.g., engaging in practice) is six times more effective than just reading text or watching a video. Additionally, learning increases significantly when students receive immediate, targeted feedback on their practice. Look for and choose materials that provide students with feedback on their progress and ample opportunities to continue to test their knowledge and fill in gaps in their learning.

Low-stakes practice also provides you with actionable insight into how your students are progressing before quizzes, exams, and other high-stakes assessments. Uncovering this information and using it to support students who may need more help is essential to supporting all students.

2. Using learning analytics data to identify struggling students: Courseware can help you intervene at the right point in a student’s learning trajectory, no matter the learning modality. Because this is true, “remediation efforts should therefore be audited to ensure that they are accessible for remote or hybrid scenarios.”

This is where courseware is exceptionally well suited. Once a student is identified as struggling, courseware can notify you that remediation is needed before it’s too late. For example, courseware can prompt you to provide extra support or resources to specific students before a high-stakes assessment. These prompts can come via email notification or on easy-to-read dashboards:

View of dashboard showing struggling students

In the screenshot above, the courseware identified which students failed to achieve mastery on their first quiz attempt. The courseware makes it easy for you to message a student; you will see a templated message filled in with information specific to the student, including their name and the specific learning outcomes they struggled with. The message provides you with an easy way to invite students into a conversation with you, either face-to-face during office hours or synchronously in another medium. You can review the message, edit it if you choose, and then send it to the student.

With faculty citing the ability to provide remediation to students as a top challenge, especially during shifts to remote instruction, courseware can be both an effective and efficient solution.

3. Improve faculty-student relationships: Actionable insights help forge closer, more meaningful relationships between students and faculty. Students feel better supported when you are able to proactively reach out to offer help, rather than waiting for students to come ask for help. And when students also have a view into their own learning and progress, it can impact engagement, which also influences their relationship with you.

As we discussed in a recent post about building community and engagement in courseware, student motivation increases when they are active participants in their own learning. This means students must have knowledge of their progress and where they need extra practice. When you leverage courseware to help students have more agency in their own learning, student outcomes improve.

This is where timely feedback is crucial to the relationship between students and faculty. Dr. David Wiley, Chief Academic Officer, and Robert Bodily, Senior Data Scientist, both on our team here at Lumen, discuss the difference instructors can make when they know where their students are in the learning process and adapt their teaching to meet their learners’ specific needs. They explain that quality courseware includes “features specifically designed to help catalyze meaningful teacher-student relationships and to support teachers in developing accurate understandings of where their students are — while there’s still time for teachers to influence student learning.”

Trust is built when students sense that you know the areas where they need additional support and can help them get that support. “The teacher-student relationship has a huge impact on student achievement. Without a foundation of trust, learning and teaching are virtually impossible” (Hattie & Zierer, 2019) Courseware can help you gain insight to how students are doing and proactively engage students based on that knowledge.

With the demand for differentiated instruction and personalized pathways increasing, you can use courseware that offers effective interventions — whether automated within the course materials or facilitated directly by you. Learning data alone does not make a positive impact on student outcomes. It’s when learning data leads to actionable insights that provide students opportunities for targeted practice and recommend intervention strategies from faculty, that teaching and learning improves.