Putting an ethical lens on learning analytics

Deborah West, Henk Huijser, David Heath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


As learning analytics activity has increased, a variety of ethical implications and considerations have emerged, though a significant research gap remains in explicitly investigating the views of key stakeholders, such as academic staff. This paper draws on ethics-related findings from an Australian study featuring two surveys, one of institutional leaders (n = 22) and one of academic staff (n = 353), as well as a set of follow-up interviews (n = 23) with academic level staff. A self-selecting sample of participants was asked about the ethical issues they see as important in learning analytics and about the types of ethical principles or considerations they thought should guide learning analytics use. Data showed participants’ views did tend to align with established ethical principles, though the language used to express this varied widely. Building on, and in response to, both the data and the literature review the paper proposes an ethical decision making framework that encourages institutional leaders and those involved in implementing learning analytics to consistently apply and document ethical decision making processes as part of an overall approach to developing well-aligned and transparent institutional policies and broader ethical literacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-922
Number of pages20
JournalEducational Technology Research and Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethical concerns
  • Ethical decision making
  • Ethical principles
  • Learning analytics


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