Learning Design and Analytics Research & Scholarship


Our research in learning design examines the design and study of learning environments within curricular and co-curricular contexts to better understand how people learn so as to enhance the learning intervention. Learning design is a broad interdisciplinary research area with varied foci such as technology-enhanced learning, collaborative and project-based learning, instructional communication and others. We focus on several themes that are central to our research in learning design, including:

  • the creation of better flow between research and practice for effective learning designs;
  • the analysis and assessment of learning through experimental and design-based implementation, research, learning analytics, and connected learning models;
  • the examination of the process of design as a learning intervention.

One particular research question we are exploring is: How can learning analytics and learning design help us to “articulate a vision for defining and measuring the outcomes of holistic learning so that the value of educating for formation can be made central” to reshaping higher education? (as described in the Formation by Design Report, 2014-15). Formation is a concept of learning and development at the heart of Jesuit education that pays attention to the individuality of each student as a distinctive person with unique potential. Under the larger notion of formation, we are pursuing several sub-questions, such as the following:

  • How can cognitive science help faculty sequence learning activities to promote reflective sensemaking in support of formational outcomes?
  • How can the techniques of discourse analysis facilitate evaluation of a corpus of reflective writing?
  • How can platforms and technologies be used to design an environment that supports contemplative reading?
  • How can faculty most effectively design learning with formational outcomes in mind?

Learning analytics are a crucial part of understanding learners and their contexts, and help to support an effective learning environment. Our research in learning analytics collects, measures, and evaluates formational concepts of learners, and our research in this area supports the postsecondary success of a wide range of students. In our research, we draw upon the tools of learning analytics, including Social Network Analysis, Virtual Learning Systems Analysis, Information Visualization, Discourse Analysis, and Disposition Analytics.

Our research on

  • Formation by Design
  • Learning Design
  • Learning Analytics
  • Teaching Online

Vovides, Y. and Inman, S. (under review). Elusive Learning--Using Learning Analytics to Support Reflective Sensemaking of Ill-Structured Ethical Problems. Future Internet: eLearning Special Issue.