Elements of Success (EoS)—a learning analytics platform in Iowa Courses Online (ICON)—gives University of Iowa students and instructors real-time data on how students are performing in class.
The Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology (OTLT) researched the impact of EoS in a general chemistry course, finding that students who regularly visited EoS achieved significantly higher scores on subsequent exams and received higher final grades than those who didn’t. Students with an estimated grade of a D or lower were more likely to receive a passing final grade if they used EoS (after adjusting prior learning outcomes and self-reported study skills).
EoS began in 2014 as a research project in an introductory chemistry course to foster student success. In the 2018 academic year, more than 9,500 students used it in 18 courses.
“The tool puts students in the driver’s seat for academic success,” says Jane Russell, associate director of research and assessment in the OTLT Center for Teaching. “They can set goals and track their progress by monitoring projected grades and how they are doing in comparison to peers.”
EoS uses data from graded assignments, quizzes, and exams to project grades.
Along the way, instructors have insight into how their students are doing. Through EoS, they can provide customized feedback to students, suggest study strategies, and direct students to campus resources such as tutoring.
Natalia Alexeeva, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, uses EoS in General Chemistry I.
“With EoS, students always know where they stand in relation to the rest of the class, what resources are available, and which study strategies they may want to implement to improve," Alexeeva says. “It’s a valuable tool that helps me provide timely performance feedback to all of my students.”
Students also reported positive experiences using EoS. Joseph Verry, a first-year student from Coralville who is studying biomedical engineering on a pre-medicine track, used EoS in a large Chemistry course.
"It’s impossible to tell how you are doing compared to others based on just the performance and participation of others in class, so this feature gives a great perspective,” Verry says. “I appreciated the ability to see where the average was and being able to compare my own grade in the multiple sections of the course."
In a confidential survey, many students expressed a strong desire to use EoS in all courses to better monitor their performance and make informed decisions about their study habits.
One student said the tool provided much-needed reassurance: “I had been very anxious about my standing in the course after I did poorly on a test, and Elements of Success allowed me to realize that my grade in the course was still alright.”
Another student described how EoS prompted them to take action: “It provided me with clear expectations and a foundation to know how to conduct my future actions and study strategies.”
Use of EoS been slowly, but steadily increasing over the past few semesters and will continue to grow.
“Choosing new courses has been a very deliberate process in targeting new courses to adopt the new system to ensure success for both students and instructors,” Russell says. “In the coming semesters, features of EoS will be enhanced and it will be scaled for a broader audience across campus.”