5 SPEC Kit 360: Learning Analytics The majority of respondents (28 or 70%) obtain Institutional Review Board approval for learning analytics projects. Those who indicated that they did not seek approval commented that the projects were for non-research purposes, library internal use, or process improvements, all of which are typically exempt from IRB oversight. Two institutions indicated that when they used data beyond strictly internal process review, they obtained consent from students and allowed participants to opt out. Sixty percent of respondents indicated that they review FERPA with staff members for their learning analytics work. Several comments indicate a reliance on general institutional training, without further specific training regarding LA. Procedures (Q37–Q40) In addition to understanding the overarching policies about data handling and privacy, the survey sought to understand the day-to-day documentation and training available to prepare librarians gathering data and participating in LA initiatives to meet best practices or respond to data requests. Internal staff guidelines and documentation are only available at one-quarter of 44 responding institutions. These include both internal and external training, planning documents, and a document specifying levels of data access (unanalyzed data, de-identified, etc.) One interesting response indicated that not only did they provide information about how patron data was used, they also had a statement that addressed the data gathered about the librarians as well. Only a third of 45 responding libraries have a process for handling external requests from subject departments or other campus entities for library data. Comments indicate that administrators or staff responsible for assessment may be called upon to review these requests on an ad hoc basis. One respondent reported that “we would cooperate and collaborate with any department requesting institutional data” without further suggesting any restrictions or parameters under which the data might be shared. Library staff who are involved in learning analytics projects are most likely to receive training on specific tools and IRB and FERPA requirements. Some of the responding libraries also provide training on data visualization, security, and handling (e.g., cleaning). Seven respondents (16%) indicated that librarians received no training for learning analytics projects. Partnerships (Q41–Q43) The survey next asked whether the library is participating in any learning analytics partnerships either on or beyond campus. Almost 40% of respondents indicated they participate in LA initiatives alongside campus units such as the Office of Institutional Research, the Writing Center, Information Technology, Provost, Office of Assessment, and Undergraduate Affairs. A third of the respondents are working with consortia, such as the Greater Western Library Alliance Student Success Initiative and Unizin. A final question offered respondents the opportunity to add anything the survey missed. A majority of respondents pointed out that learning analytics projects at their institutions and their libraries are nascent. They generally indicated an interest and willingness to engage in the gathering and assessment of this data without reservations. Only one institution clearly stated that they were not undertaking learning analytics projects and did not intend to do so. Recommendations Overall, the survey results suggest that participation in library learning analytics, broadly defined, is of great interest to ARL libraries, with the majority of respondents participating in some sort of initiative within their library, if not yet within their institution. Libraries are increasingly capturing learning analytics data with personal identifiers, although little data is being formally or regularly shared with
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