The core foci of learning analytics are to
1) increase student learning and
2) improve institutional contexts and practices associated with student success. The main objective of learning analytics is not to demonstrate value. (i)
At the same time, learning analytics may offer senior library leaders opportunities to learn about the degree to which libraries make an impact on student learning and success. Indeed, correlating student-library interactions with student success markers has long been an aspiration of library leaders seeking to capture and grow the actual and perceived value of libraries within an institutional context. (ii)
Like their counterparts throughout higher education, library leaders understand that stakeholders including students, their families, and their broader communities expect institutions to support students in persisting from one academic period to another; completing courses, programs, and degrees in a timely fashion; achieving learning outcomes; and graduating ready to gain appropriate employment and contribute to their communities. To fail in these goals is to fail students who are counting on their higher education experiences to enable them to learn, attain career goals, increase financial security, and achieve social mobility, among other goals. (iii) Library leaders also know that they are increasingly required to show that they are good stewards of the tuition dollars they accept and are often required to reduce costs while maintaining high standards. (iv)
As a result, library leaders seek to learn what areas of their libraries are contributing to student learning and success, understand how they can strengthen those areas, and discover how other areas might be augmented to increase their impact on students. Learning analytics offer one way of improving librarian understanding of which resources, services, and facilities are correlated with positive outcomes for students. Certainly, correlation does not equal causation; that is, librarians cannot easily argue that positive outcomes result because of library interactions. Still, strong positive correlations can provide indications of ways libraries can make differences for students and aid in librarian decision making and action taking to support student learning and success.(v)
Therefore, the potential impact of learning analytics lies in 1) the insights that learning analytics may provide librarians, students, and other educational partners and 2) the actualization of those insights into direct benefits to students. The LIILA report outlines possible future actions (section 3.3.) and example scenarios of benefits to students (section 3.6) that might result from learning analytics insights.
iii. Wolff-Eisenberg, C. (2018). Amplifying student voices: The community college libraries and academic support for student success project (report). New York, NY: Ithaka S+R. Retrieved from http://www.sr.ithaka.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/SR_Report_Amplifying_Student_Voices_CCLASS-_08132018.pdf