Investigation on the Role of Learning Theory in Learning Analytics

Seyyedkazem Banihashem, Khadijeh Aliabadi, Saeed Pourroostaei Ardakani, Ali Delavar, Mohammadreza Nili Ahmadabadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Studies have shown that there is a gap between theory and practice in the use of learning analytics in educational settings. Some researchers attribute this gap to not taking learning theories into consideration in the use of learning analytics in educational contexts. This study was conducted to address the role of learning theory in applying learning analytics in educational contexts. Methods: This is a qualitative study and the study design is content analysis. Thematic analysis was used as the research method. Data for this study was collected through an interview with 14 experts in the fields of learning analytics and learning theory who were selected purposefully. Theoretical saturation method was used to determine the sample size. Content analysis techniques were used to analyze data and content validity index (CVI) and Cohen’s kappa coefficient were performed to measure the validity and reliability of the findings. Results: Data analysis was performed to identify three main roles for learning theory in learning analytics including underpinning role, guiding role, and sense-making role. Conclusion: The results suggest that first, learning theory should underlie learning analytics (where to begin). Second, application of learning analytics in educational settings should be guided by learning theory (what and how to do), and third, learning analytics’ reports should be interpreted based on the learning theory implications for education (answer to question why).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-27
Number of pages14
JournalInterdisciplinary Journal of Virtual Learning in Medical Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


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