Social comparison in learning analytics dashboard supporting motivation and academic achievement

Damien S. Fleur, Wouter van den Bos, Bert Bredeweg

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A promising contribution of Learning Analytics is the presentation of a learner's own learning behaviour and achievements via dashboards, often in comparison to peers, with the goal of improving self-regulated learning. However, there is a lack of empirical evidence on the impact of these dashboards and few designs are informed by theory. Many dashboard designs struggle to translate awareness of learning processes into actual self-regulated learning. In this study we investigate a Learning Analytics dashboard based on existing evidence on social comparison to support motivation, metacognition and academic achievement. Motivation plays a key role in whether learners will engage in self-regulated learning in the first place. Social comparison can be a significant driver in increasing motivation. We performed two randomised controlled interventions in different higher-education courses, one of which took place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students were shown their current and predicted performance in a course alongside that of peers with similar goal grades. The sample of peers was selected in a way to elicit slight upward comparison. We found that the dashboard successfully promotes extrinsic motivation and leads to higher academic achievement, indicating an effect of dashboard exposure on learning behaviour, despite an absence of effects on metacognition. These results provide evidence that carefully designed social comparison, rooted in theory and empirical evidence, can be used to boost motivation and performance. Our dashboard is a successful example of how social comparison can be implemented in Learning Analytics Dashboards.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100130
Number of pages11
JournalComputers and Education Open
Early online date20 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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