To promote cross-community dialogue on matters of significance within the field of learning analytics (LA), the editors-in-chief of the Journal of Learning Analytics (JLA) have introduced a section for papers that are open to peer commentary. The first submission that was open to peer commentary is “A LAK of Direction: Misalignment Between the Goals of Learning Analytics and its Research Scholarship” by Motz et al. (2023) in which the authors compare the current state of research with the definition of learning analytics by reviewing research published in the past three years in LAK and JLA. Their aim is to answer the question: Is the learning analytics community doing what it set out to do, i.e. understand and optimise learning?

Two of the peer commentaries submitted in response to this article are authored by edutec members.

  1. Causation and the Interplay Between Learning Outcomes and Learning Interventions by Ben Hicks, Joshua Weidlich, Kirsty Kitto, Simon Buckingham Shum and Hendrik Drachsler: Motz et al. (2023) make the point that learning analytics should be more frequently measuring learning outcomes and making interventions in order to better align with its stated goals. These two aspects of their critique are symptomatic of an underlying need for a more formal modelling of causality. We comment on how this might be expected in an emerging field and offer a potential way forward.
  2. Rethinking How We Measure Learning by Lars van Rijn, Michael Hanses and Ioana Jivet: This commentary challenges the operationalization of the goals of the learning analytics research field (i.e., “understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs”) into the coding scheme used by the authors to analyze recent literature from the Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference and the Journal of Learning Analytics. We will use the proposed code for learning outcome as a starting point to reflect on the concept of learning and learning outcomes from an educational science perspective. We reiterate the idea that the definition of learning outcome disregards process-oriented measurement of learning. In closing, we emphasize the need for discourse to refine what the field understands as learning, how to impact it, and how to evaluate the community’s goals

Citation: Ferguson, Rebecca, Hassan Khosravi, Vitomir Kovanović, Olga Viberg, Ashish Aggarwal, Matthieu Brinkhuis, Simon Buckingham Shum, Lujie Karen Chen, Hendrik Drachsler, Valerie A. Guerrero, Michael Hanses, Caitlin Hayward, Ben Hicks, Ioana Jivet, Kirsty Kitto, René Kizilcec, Jason M. Lodge, Catherine A. Manly, Rebecca L. Matz, Michael J. Meaney, Xavier Ochoa, Brendan A. Schuetze, Marco Spruit, Max van Haastrecht, Anouschka van Leeuwen, Lars van Rijn, Yi-Shan Tsai, Joshua Weidlich, Kimberly Williamson, and Veronica X. Yan. 2023. “Aligning the Goals of Learning Analytics With Its Research Scholarship: An Open Peer Commentary Approach”. Journal of Learning Analytics 10 (2):14-50.