Thank you Linda Corrin for your ingredients for enhancing student learning using data in CMM earlier this year. Your four “must-dos” for effective learning analytics implementation provide a great summary. In the below reply, we suggest two practical actions that academics can take right now as most Australian universities approach the next census date. These suggestions account for the fact that it can be difficult to identify disengaged students early in their commencing session, as there is only limited learning data available.

How to identify disengaged students

A zero-fail grade is the most common unit level failure, which is usually due to a student being enrolled but not participating in any way. We are all aware of students who are enrolled in our classes, but are nowhere to be found. These are what we call ‘ghost students.

 Early, low stakes assessment: We have shown that non submission of an early, low stakes assessment item is an accurate trigger of disengagement in first year students. Our research shows assessments valued between 5-20 per cent and due at least two weeks into the semester (but due at least a few days before census) seem to be the most effective.

 Last access to the subject/course site: While there are many types of learning analytics available, an accurate measure of student engagement is the date of last access to the subject/course site. We and others have shown that just 10 days without accessing the subject/course site puts the student at risk.

Triggering timely, targeted phone support: By offering timely, targeted phone support to disengaged students pre census, we have reduced the number of students receiving a zero-fail grade. If a disengaged student has a successful dialogue with the Student Outreach team, they have a 20 per cent less chance of receiving a zero-fail grade and are over 20 per cent more likely to receive a pass or credit.

Once students have been contacted by phone, they are assisted in three main ways:

* some students were not aware they were enrolled and we were able to assist with withdrawing

* some students had been unwell or didn’t realise the first assessment was due and were then provided advice in order to succeed.

* a third group of students were at risk of failing due to changing circumstances and we helped to reduce their study load or to defer

In summary, a targeted, well timed phone call can make a big difference! So who are you going to call?

Kelly Linden, Charles Sturt University, Division of Student Success, Senior Retention Lead [email protected] @Kellinden

Chris Campbell, Charles Sturt University, Division of Learning and Teaching, Sub Dean (Learning Technology) and Faculty of Science and Health Business Partner [email protected] @Chrissie




to get daily updates on what's happening in the world of Australian Higher Education