In this editorial, the first issue of the International Journal of Learning Analytics and Artificial Intelligence for Education is presented. The Journal of Learning Analytics and Artificial Intelligence for Education is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal that aims to disseminate the highest quality research in the field. The journal aims to increase knowledge and understanding of ways in which learning analytics and artificial intelligence can support and enhance education. The editorial presents the scope and fields of interest for the journal and an overview of the articles published in the first issue.
The bachelor thesis is commonly a necessary last step towards the first graduation in higher education and constitutes a central key to both further studies in higher education and employment that requires higher education degrees. Thus, completion of the thesis is a desirable outcome for individual students, academic institutions and society, and non-completion is a significant cost. Unfortunately, many academic institutions around the world experience that many thesis projects are not completed and that students struggle with the thesis process. This paper addresses this issue with the aim to, on the one hand, identify and explain why thesis projects are completed or not, and on the other hand, to predict non-completion and completion of thesis projects using machine learning algorithms. The sample for this study consisted of bachelor students’ thesis projects (n=2436) that have been started between 2010 and 2017. Data were extracted from two different data systems used to record data about thesis projects. From these systems, thesis project data were collected including variables related to both students and supervisors. Traditional statistical analysis (correlation tests, t-tests and factor analysis) was conducted in order to identify factors that influence non-completion and completion of thesis projects and several machine learning algorithms were applied in order to create a model that predicts completion and non-completion. When taking all the analysis mentioned above into account, it can be concluded with confidence that supervisors’ ability and experience play a significant role in determining the success of thesis projects, which, on the one hand, corroborates previous research. On the other hand, this study extends previous research by pointing out additional specific factors, such as the time supervisors take to complete thesis projects and the ratio of previously unfinished thesis projects. It can also be concluded that the academic title of the supervisor, which was one of the variables studied, did not constitute a factor for completing thesis projects. One of the more novel contributions of this study stems from the application of machine learning algorithms that were used in order to – reasonably accurately – predict thesis completion/non-completion. Such predictive models offer the opportunity to support a more optimal matching of students and supervisors.
Information and communication technologies are increasingly mediating learning and teaching practices as well as how educational institutions are handling their administrative work. As such, students and teachers are leaving large amounts of digital footprints and traces in various educational apps and learning management platforms, and educational administrators register various processes and outcomes in digital administrative systems. It is against such a background we in recent years have seen the emergence of the fast-growing and multi-disciplinary field of learning analytics. In this paper, we examine the research efforts that have been conducted in the field of learning analytics in Austria, Finland, Norway, Germany, Spain, and Sweden. More specifically, we report on developed national policies, infrastructures and competence centers, as well as major research projects and developed research strands within the selected countries. The main conclusions of this paper are that the work of researchers around Europe has not led to national adoption or European level strategies for learning analytics. Furthermore, most countries have not established national policies for learners’ data or guidelines that govern the ethical usage of data in research or education. We also conclude that learning analytics research on the pre-university level to a high extent have been overlooked. In the same vein, learning analytics has not received enough focus form national and European national bodies. Such funding is necessary for taking steps towards data-driven development of education.