Do academics and university administrators really know better? The ethics of positioning student perspectives in learning analytics

Keywords: learning analytics, student perspectives, ethics, student concerns, data privacy


Increasingly learning analytics (LA) has begun utilising staff- and student-facing dashboards capturing visualisations to present data to support student success and improve learning and teaching. The use of LA is complex, multifaceted and raises many issues for consideration, including ethical and legal challenges, competing stakeholder views and implementation decisions. It is widely acknowledged that LA development requires input from various stakeholders. This conceptual article explores the LA literature to determine how student perspectives are positioned as dashboards and visualisations are developed. While the sector acknowledges the central role of students, as demonstrated here, much of the literature reflects an academic, teacher-centric or institutional view. This view reflects some of the key ethical concerns related to informed consent and the role of power translating to a somewhat paternalistic approach to students. We suggest that as students are the primary stakeholders – they should be consulted in the development and application of LA. An ethical approach to LA requires that we engage with our students in their learning and the systems and information that support that process rather than assuming we know we know what students want, what their concerns are or how they would like data presented.


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Author Biographies

Deborah West, Flinders University

Pro Vice Chancellor (Learning and Teaching Innovation)


Ann Luzeckyj, Flinders University
Senior Lecturer in Higher Education, Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching
Danny Toohey, Murdoch University
Academic Chair IT Transnational Programs, School of Engineering and Information Technology
Jessica Vanderlelie, La Trobe University
Pro Vice Chancellor (Student Success)
Bill Searle, Charles Darwin University
Manager, Learning Technologies