A learning analytics view of students’ use of self-regulation strategies for essay writing


  • Kelly Tresize
  • Paula de Barba
  • David Jennens
  • Alexander Zarebski
  • Robert Russo
  • Gregor Kennedy




essay writing, learning analytics, case studies


Essay writing is a fundamental part of higher education. Students’ use of self-regulatory skills, such as time management and planning and writing strategies, while writing essays predicts better writing quality. Current characterisations of the relationship between self-regulation and essay writing are limited by the difficulty of assessing self-regulation in real-life essay writing contexts. This paper reports on a novel approach to examine students’ use of self-regulation strategies in a real-life setting, using learning analytics. Four case studies are presented to illustrate similarities and differences in students’ use of time management, planning and writing strategies. Participants managed their time in very different ways to complete the assignment. They were active over a different number of days, engaged in sessions of different durations, and at different times of the day. The participants used a variety of approaches to their writing: one participant started early and allowed editing time, another typed gradually over a number of days, and two participants waited until the due date to complete the essay, with varying amounts of editing. Findings from this research contribute to a novel detailed empirical evidence of different essay preparation behaviour in real-life settings. After further studies with a variety of essay types and student samples, there may be significant value in using the approached outlined in this paper as the basis of tools they provide students with advice and support in their essay preparation.






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