Continuous Professional Development for Data Enabled Student Success

Schalk, Ana, Ginty, Carina, Deagan, Catherine, Downey, Darvee, Gray, Geraldine, Cooke, Gordon, O'Farrell, Lee, Doody, James, O'Rourke, Kevin, Rooney, Pauline, Murnion, Phelim and Daffy, Sean (2021) Continuous Professional Development for Data Enabled Student Success.


The Daltaí project is a collaboration between TU Dublin and GMIT, and it is supported by the National Forum Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (2019-2021). Daltaí aims: to review and identify the professional development needs of higher education staff with regard to learning analytics skills; and develop open access professional development resources that scaffold and enable staff and students to interpret learning analytics outputs.

This paper reports on a study to identify continuous professional development (CPD) training needs to enable all stakeholders use learning data effectively to promote student success. A needs analysis to inform this CPD used a mixed-methods approach. Firstly, ten semi-structured focus groups were conducted with staff and students in TU Dublin and GMIT (n=77). The purpose of focus groups was to identify preferences and needs in relation to the training required to engage with learning analytics. Secondly, surveys for students and staff that covered points raised during focus groups were administered, to increase the level of concordance and reliability gained in the qualitative phase. Surveys were completed by 1,390 students and 190 staff from across Irish HEIs.

There was a strong consensus on the top priority for training from both focus groups and survey responses, namely training on ethics and privacy to ensure data analysis and resulting actions are GDPR compliant and transparent. Related to this, training on appropriate uses of data was also considered a priority. The second key priority is training on how to act on information inferred from data. Both students and staff prioritised staff agency in terms of knowing how to act on data to improve teaching practice. The third priority emphasised by staff and student responses is understanding the outputs of learning analytics. Students were particularly interested in feedback on their overall progress. There was less interest in training on how to analyse data, which concurred with concerns about workload. There was also less interest in training related to policy, with the exception of professional development staff for whom it was a key priority.

Analysis of the results informed the development of a Daltaí training framework that differentiated between the needs of students, academic staff and professional services staff. The resulting framework focused on three stages. The first is Knowing about learning analytics and its possibilities and limitations. Its focus is promoting curiosity about the questions that learning analytics can answer while providing clarity on ethical constraints and good codes of practice, the importance of learning analytics policy, and the types of data available to each group. Secondly, Using and practicing focuses on how to work with data and interpret learning analytics. Topics include data access & capture, data processing & interpretation, using learning analytics to identify at risk students, and learning analytics for feedback. The third category focuses on taking action, covering action and impact, promoting agency, and considering how this can take place within current work practices and resource limitations. The training framework is available on Related training resources will be open educational resources available on

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