Learning Analytics: Assisting Universities with Student Retention

Project Outputs

Ultimately the project is working towards the following project outputs for the sector to draw upon:

  1. A non-technical overview of the use/potential use and limitations of learning analytics
  2. Data on LMS, and the use of analytics in the sector at various levels
  3. Framework for critically evaluating the use of analytics for student retention based on a list of retention variables, cross referenced to LMS, SIS and learning analytics and related issues (e.g. application, training, ethics etc.)
  4. Case studies on the use of the framework to evaluate analytics in the five project institutions and measurement of the impact on student retention
  5. Organisation of a national forum for dissemination of the findings and providing space for critical reflection on learning analytics to enhance retention.


The Project Team

The project is a partnership between five universities and is being led by A/Prof Deborah West from Charles Darwin University. The research team also comprises four institutional leads from the partner universities and additional researchers with specific skills and knowledge designed to broaden the expertise available to the team.

Project Update

As at May 2015 the main administrative work project around the project is being finalised and the final report is being prepared for submission to the Office for Learning and Teaching in June, 2015. In line with the final report and over the coming weeks and months the website will shift from being focused on the forum specifically, to being a place for project resources showing the evolution of the framework and other materials as we continue to develop and present them.

Presented below is summary of the data collection carried out in the project and how this progressed.

Institution Level Survey

The Institution Level Survey was completed anonymously by 21 institutions in Semester 2, 2014 and was focused at the senior leadership level. The purpose of the survey is mainly to investigate the approaches that institutions have made with learning analytics and what their plans are for the future.

Academic Level Survey

Academic Level Survey data was collected anonymously across Semester 2, 2014 and was focused on individual academic staff – such as teaching staff, student support staff, educational developers, learning support staff and other relevant people. A total of 353 people complete the survey, with 78% being involved in teaching students. The purpose of this survey was to find out how academic level staff were thinking about learning analytics, what they are doing around student retention and what challenges and opportunities that they see existing with learning analytics.


We completed 23 interviews with participants from 15 different institutions who self-selected following the Academic Level Survey. The interviews are intended to provide an in-depth explanation of some of the key issues raised in the quantitative data as well as simple, practical examples of problems that academic staff are facing and how they are working to resolve them. Many of the views of interviewees are captured in the presentations available in the Forum section of the site.

Case Studies

The case studies are an important aspect of the project because they allow the framework being developed during the project to be contextualised and tested in authentic contexts. Case studies have been completed by each of the partner universities in the project (5) and these are available in the Forum section as well.

Reference Group

The project has been supported by a reference group comprised of a variety of senior academics who contribute a much appreciated external perspective on key issues and themes that arise in the project and provide crucial review and input into the project drafts. The project team thanks them for their invaluable contribution to the project and acknowledges the generous amount of time they have given.

Reference Group Members


Emeritus Professor Charles Webb
Former DVC Academic – Charles Darwin University


Dr Garry Allan
RMIT University
Project Evaluator

Prof Martin Carroll
Charles Darwin University
Universities Australia representative

Dr Mark Northover
Auckland University of Technology
ACODE representative

Dr Sandy O’Sullivan
Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education

Ms Kylie Readman
University of Southern Queensland
CADAD representative

Mr Bill Searle
Charles Darwin University
Project Member

Prof Janet Taylor
Southern Cross University

A/Prof Philip Uys
Charles Sturt University

A/Prof Gary Thomas
Queensland University of Technology

A/Prof Deborah West
Charles Darwin University
Project Lead

Further Information

If you are interested in finding out more about the project and being notified as publications and resources become available please contact us.