Learning Analytics Methods, Benefits, and Challenges in Higher Education: A Systematic Literature Review





Learning analytics, big data, text mining, data analysis


Higher education for the 21st century continues to promote discoveries in the field through learning analytics (LA). The problem is that the rapid embrace of of LA diverts educators’ attention from clearly identifying requirements and implications of using LA in higher education. LA is a promising emerging field, yet higher education stakeholders need to become further familiar with issues related to the use of LA in higher education. Few studies have synthesized previous studies to provide an overview of LA issues in higher education. To address the problem, a systemic literature review was conducted to provide an overview of methods, benefits, and challenges of using LA in higher education. The literature review revealed that LA uses various methods including visual data analysis techniques, social network analysis, semantic, and educational data mining including prediction, clustering, relationship mining, discovery with models, and separation of data for human judgment to analyze data. The benefits include targeted course offerings, curriculum development, student learning outcomes, behavior and process, personalized learning, improved instructor performance, post-educational employment opportunities, and enhanced research in the field of education. Challenges include issues related to data tracking, collection, evaluation, analysis; lack of connection to learning sciences; optimizing learning environments, and ethical and privacy issues. Such a comprehensive overview provides an integrative report for faculty, course developers, and administrators about methods, benefits, and challenges of LA so that they may apply LA more effectively to improve teaching and learning in higher education.

Author Biography

Sandra Nunn, University of Phoenix

Dr. Sandra G. Nunn, DM, is a Management Consultant with more than 30 years of experience in private industry and public service where she has served as a diplomat, federal agent, business executive, entrepreneur, and engineer. Based on her experience, Dr. Nunn has developed expertise regarding leadership ethics, global management, and national security. She has provided testimony to the U.S. Senate, appeared numerous times in the media, and has done speaking engagements throughout the country to include Smith College. She currently serves as an Executive for three firms and as a Board Member for several non-profit groups. She also serves as a Research Affiliate for the Center for Educational and Instructional Technology Research at University of Phoenix. Dr. Nunn has a Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix in Phoenix, Arizona.


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Learning Analytics: Special Issue