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“I’m Not a Number, I’m Someone to Them”: Supporting Commencing University Students’ Through Technology-Mediated Personalised Communication

Abstract

As universities offer more flexible delivery options there are parallel concerns about increasing levels of engagement. Withdrawal and disconnection from study is most common during the first year of university as students experience social, cultural and financial adjustments and attempt to understand the nuances of academic learning. This article reports on the impact of a technology-enabled support system delivering timely, personalised and actionable feedback on online activity and support emails at critical periods in two courses. Learning analytics data was used to identify appropriate engagement metrics for personalising feedback to students with results indicating an improvement in course grades. While the learning analytics approach provides a technology-mediated means for scaling personalised feedback and communicating with large cohorts of learners, the qualitative results indicated that students felt they were noticed as individual learners, were more willing to contact educators for support, and more motivated to engage with the online course learning materials.

Published:
Section: Online First
0 citation(s) in Scopus
0 citation(s) in Web of Science

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Author Biographies

University of South Australia
Australia Australia

Dr Sally Lewis is a Senior Lecturer in Communication and Media and Program Director at the University of South Australia. She is a former Director of Communication (Government) and Director of Marketing (Industry). Sally has been nationally recognised for her work in interdisciplinary student learning and has research interests in communication and student engagement. Her current projects include a report, book chapter and paper with colleagues from Curtin University, RMIT and UTS on interdisciplinary, project-based work-integrated learning.

University of South Australia
Australia Australia

Dr Georgina Heath is a Psychology Lecturer and First Year Coordinator at the University of South Australia. Georgina currently coordinates a number of Psychology courses with a focus on personal and professional development. Georgina’s work as First Year Coordinator has involved implementing a study skills and resilience program for students transitioning into university. Georgina’s background is in shift work and health which was the topic of her PhD.

University of South Australia
Australia Australia

Lisa-Angelique Lim is a PhD candidate with Education Futures at the University of South Australia. Lisa’s research lies at the intersection of learning analytics and student learning. Of particular interest is the impact of student-facing learning analytics reporting systems on students’ self-regulated learning processes and academic performance. Lisa is especially interested in how students interact with these socio-technical systems, to make decisions about their learning.

University of South Australia
Australia Australia

Dr Rosie Roberts is a Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of South Australia. Her research focuses on middling forms of transnational migration into and out of Australia. She has recently published a book titled ‘Ongoing mobility trajectories: lived experiences of global migration’ (Springer 2019), examining the ways migrants enact agency and negotiate risk under the spatial and temporal conditions of multi-stage and ongoing migration pathways. Her current collaborative projects include a co-edited book with Associate Professor Shanthi Robertson, which provides a critical exploration of middling transnationalism (contracted with Routledge, 2021) as well as a project exploring arts-based approaches of working with new arrivals from a refugee background, to support their resettlement in Australia. She has also worked on several government funded education projects, which focused on the transition of students from disadvantaged backgrounds to higher education.