Using Learning Analytics to Provide Timely, Personalized, and Actionable Feedback to Learners

Series: CTLT Institute

Event Date & Time

  • May 22, 2018
    1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Event Description

Pillar: Transformative Learning

Giving timely, relevant feedback to students is a critical aspect of good teaching and supporting student success. This hands-on session will explore OnTask, which is an analytics tool being piloted as part of the UBC Learning Analytics project. OnTask enables instructors to give targeted, customized messages based on the metrics that they set for their courses. This allows instructors to provide students with timely and personal feedback that can scale to large courses. Feedback can range from targeted remediation suggestions for students at-risk to enrichment opportunities for high achieving students. For example, students who performed poorly on a particular exam question may receive a comment such as “You chose an incorrect response for question 3 of the midterm, you may want to review pg. 7 of the notes from Week 2 (Cell Division). After reviewing, see if you can name at least 3 similarities and 3 differences between mitosis and meiosis without looking at your notes.”

Such data driven approaches reframe the process of writing feedback from “what feedback will I give to each student?” to “How would I differentially advise students, based on their course performance and activity?”. Assuming the number of distinct advising scenarios is much smaller than the number of students, the potential of this approach is that it will result in an increase in the quality/timeliness of feedback for learners and a reduction in workload for instructors.

OnTask is actively being pilot tested by Dr. Silvia Bartolic as part of the UBC Learning Analytics project. As part of this workshop, we will be sharing early experiences and findings from Dr. Bartolic’s pilot.

In this workshop, instructors will gain hands-on training to use the OnTask platform. All participants should bring a laptop, and have access to Excel, or other spreadsheet editor. You will also engage in a series of small group activities to assist in:

  1. Exploring best practices for providing relevant feedback to learners
  2. Thinking about sources of data and identifying student support personas
  3. Identifying important support actions in your course (when can students use extra support, and what support do they need)

By the end of this workshop, you will be able to:

  1. Write supportive feedback to students based on conceptual student personas
  2. Identify key data needed to support feedback to learners in their courses
  3. Be prepared to use OnTask in your own teaching practice in the next academic year

Following the workshop, those who wish to pilot OnTask in their teaching will receive ongoing support for implementation and evaluation by the UBC Learning Analytics and SoTL teams.


Craig Thompson, Resaerch Analyst, Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology
Will Engle, Open Education Initiatives Strategist, Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology
Silvia Bartolic, Instructor, Department of Sociology


  • Vigentini, L., Kondo, E., Samnick, K., Liu, D., King, D., and Bridgeman A. (2017) Recipes for institutional adoption of a teacher-driven learning analytics tool: Case studies from three Australian universities. ASCILITE Conference.
  • Liu D.YT., Bartimote-Aufflick K., Pardo A., Bridgeman A.J. (2017) Data-Driven Personalization of Student Learning Support in Higher Education. In: Peña-Ayala A. (eds) Learning Analytics: Fundaments, Applications, and Trends. Studies in Systems, Decision and Control, vol 94. Springer, Cham
  • Pardo, A. , Jovanovic, J. , Dawson, S. , Gašević, D. and Mirriahi, N. (2017), Using learning analytics to scale the provision of personalised feedback. Br J Educ Technol. . doi:10.1111/bjet.12592