CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Information Systems (DCIS)


College of Engineering and Computing


Timothy J. Ellis

Committee Member

Laurie P. Dringus

Committee Member

Martha M. Snyder


Researchers have turned their attention to the use of learning analytics and dashboard systems in education. Schools are using knowledge gained in this area to address the issue of persistence to increase graduation rates. While dashboard systems have been developed and are starting to be implemented, it is not yet clear how activity and performance data from dashboards influences student behavior. In addition, much of the research has been focused on instructor-facing dashboards rather than student-facing dashboards. The current study implemented a student-facing dashboard in the learning management system and measured how information on the dashboard may have influenced participation in discussions, student performance on graded items, and persistence in future courses. A dashboard tool was developed for this study. Activity, performance, and persistence data was collected from all participating students. The study followed an experimental design approach that involved assigning a random group of students from multiple courses to a dashboard tool which showed the individual student’s activity and performance compared with that of their peers. Activity indicators included frequency of posting, average length of posts, percent of posts made to peers, and percent of posts made to instructor. The current score for the student, as a measure of performance, was also shown on the dashboard along with the current class average. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used to determine whether there were statistically significant differences in participation as measured by number of posts, word count of posts, and percent of posts to peers or performance as measured by final grade. Chi Squared analysis was used to determine whether there were significant differences in persistence as a measure of whether students registered for and attended the following session. The analysis of results indicated no significant differences in participation or performance between the experimental and control groups (f(4, 59) = .947, p = .443). Similarly, no significant differences were found in persistence between the two groups (χ2(2) = .960, p = .619). Further research is needed to more fully understand the use of student dashboard interfaces and their impact on student behavior. Future studies using a similar methodology should incorporate larger sample sizes and include all students in the class, rather than using self-selected samples. A better understanding of how the use of dashboards influences participation, performance, and persistence is needed in order to develop effective strategies for supporting students.