Learning to swim in an ocean of student data


  • Carol Russel




student feedback, data mining, text analytics


Like other Australian universities, Western Sydney University collects a large amount of data on student learning experiences, including their use of technologies. For busy discipline academics the task of mining and analysing all the data, to create meaningful evidence that informs teaching practice, can seem overwhelming. Graphs of responses to multiple choice questions are relatively straightforward to generate and share. But text comments in response to open-ended questions, although potentially very revealing, are often not used systematically. The University is making both quantitative and qualitative student survey responses available in a format that teaching staff can access directly through an institutional data dashboard. There has been some progress and there are some challenges. During 2015 we have been aiming to encourage teaching staff not just to dip their toes in the water but to take the plunge and use both quantitative and qualitative data actively and with purpose.