A blast from the past

This post is a winding back the clock a few years to take another look at a correlation we noticed some time back. A correlation that is somewhat curious.

Ever since David and I started the Indicators project way-back-when, we have considered student clicks within the learning management system (LMS) as an indicator (and only an indicator) of student behavior. This was based on correlations between student clicks on the LMS and their resulting grade as per the following chart (updated recently).

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.27.40 AM

We have no way of knowing what a click means as I suspect some students are like me in that they randomly click around the place (as a way of procrastinating in my case). There’s a good paper talking about this from Jason Lodge and Melinda Lewis from 2012.

We know that clicks are meaningless to a large extent but they are one of the few unobtrusive indicators we can easily extract from the LMS. On average more clicks within the LMS == better grades. Yes I know! This is not universally true. It’s just an average. Our own 2012 paper suggested why this isn’t universally true.

One thing we did notice back then was not so much the quantity of clicks that the students were making, but the variety of different content items that they were clicking on. What happens if we consider a click by a student on a particular activity or resource as a connection and disregard how many times they click on that particular activity or resource?

So using the same dataset (n=34930) as the previous chart above, the following chart is showing the average number of connections for each student grade.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.38.42 AM

To me, this looks very similar to the trend from the previous chart that showed clicks against grade. However what I did find very interesting is the average number of clicks that each student grade group made on each individual content item.

Grade group Average clicks per course element
HD 5.6
D 5.4
C 5.6
P 5.7
F 4.8

I found this interesting because of the apparent lack of variation between the different grades. Broadly speaking, each grade group makes roughly similar amounts of clicks on each activity and resource within Moodle. However the higher achieving students click on a larger proportion of the course activities and resources but don’t necessarily click more on each individual element. I guess I’m not surprised as, if we take a network perspective; the higher achieving students have a greater number of nodes in their network than the lower achieving students. Something that the SNA folk have known for some time.




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