How to use LMS data to support curriculum development

May 6, 2024 Watermark Insights

How to use LMS data to support curriculum development

A learning management system (LMS) is an incredible tool for higher education institutions looking to optimize their academic programs. These solutions offer extensive insights that can inform and support efforts to enhance curriculum development at your college or university. 

Leveraging LMS data analytics can help your higher education institution optimize its curriculum development processes and deliver better student experiences. 

The importance of LMS data analysis for curriculum development

Learning management system data is highly beneficial for informing curriculum development. To understand the role of these insights, you must first understand the basics of this process. 

Understanding the curriculum development process

Understanding the curriculum development process

For most colleges and universities, the curriculum development team works through a few basic phases:

  1. Conducting a needs assessment: The process begins with evaluating the top priorities and needs of stakeholders, including students and faculty. Understanding the skills and knowledge students should acquire from the program is key to determining if the existing curriculum design is effective or needs modifications. 
  2. Setting goals: After exploring the results from the needs assessment, the development team creates specific curriculum goals that align with your institution's overarching mission and help students meet course objectives. 
  3. Determining core concepts: This phase involves narrowing down the topics, theories, subject matter, and content to include in the curriculum design for each course. Collaborating on core concepts with various faculty members, department heads, and developers is important because these concepts prepare students to apply their understanding to real-life applications or for more advanced courses. 
  4. Designing individual courses: The development team produces and plans the specific courses that make up the comprehensive curriculum. This includes suitable teaching strategies and learning materials, such as syllabi, reading lists, and major projects or activities. 
  5. Evaluating curriculum effectiveness: Before offering courses to students, it is essential to evaluate each class's effectiveness in reaching the goals set in the second phase. Small tweaks may be necessary to align the course content with these objectives.
  6. Offering courses to students: Next, the institution offers courses to learners and collects important performance and progression data.
  7. Applying continuous improvement: Curriculum development is not a once-and-done process. Instead, higher education institutions are always fine-tuning their operations to deliver better student experiences. By applying the principles of continuous improvement, they can utilize LMS data to find opportunities to make courses and curriculums more effective and beneficial.

How LMS data enhances curriculum development

Learning management system data is highly useful for curriculum development as it helps colleges and universities analyze the following:

  • Student engagement: Your institution can glean many helpful takeaways from LMS data to assess how engaged learners were throughout a course. You can look into data such as how much time they spent using certain resources or how often they logged into your student portal to gauge their level of interest and participation with the course materials. These insights make it easier to update the curriculum to be more appealing to students.
  • Common challenges: This data is incredibly powerful for helping colleges and universities pinpoint where students struggle most to understand key concepts. Tracking performance data, such as grades on quizzes, essays, or exams, can help your school find opportunities to support learners and make helpful resources more accessible. 
  • Program progress: Another practical use for LMS data in curriculum development is monitoring student learning outcomes and progress through their courses or programs. These insights will help your institution assess whether or not the curriculum was effective in helping students meet essential learning objectives and preparing them for the future. They'll also offer a look into completion rates and how quickly learners worked through the materials, which can inform new curriculum revisions and improvements. 

In addition to these insights, LMS data allows for more personalized learning experiences. Your institution can learn a lot about individual student needs by analyzing this information and using its insights to tailor the curriculum to suit a wider range of learning styles and better serve each learner. 

LMS insights also provide valuable, evidence-based understandings that are useful for informing decision-making throughout curriculum development. Universities and colleges can quantify LMS data and use it to validate important choices. 

What insights does LMS data include?

A learning management system can collect various types of data:

  • Login and access: LMS platforms often include insights into student engagement based on their login history and how often they interact with specific course materials.
  • Assessment: Your institution can also access assessment data, like scores and completion times, through one of these platforms to gauge average performance standards and flag struggling students. 
  • Course content: LMSs offer insights into how a student engages with educational content, such as assignments, activities, or modules. This data can help you determine the most and least useful materials for different courses. 
  • Learning analytics: Higher education institutions can use data models from an LMS to better understand a student's behavior. This information offers a look into measurable learning pathways, engagement patterns, and learner outcomes. 
  • Discussion forums: Another type of data available through an LMS is student interactions on digital discussion forums. These insights offer information about participation and the quality of each student interaction. 
  • Feedback: A learning management system also has tools for collecting student feedback from surveys, questionnaires, and other mediums, that you can translate into actionable insights for curriculum improvements. 
  • Communication: Some LMSs include capabilities to gather insights on interactions between students and faculty, such as how often students reach out to professors and typical exchanges among users.
  • Completion rates: These platforms can also provide insight into course completion rates to track student progress and help them graduate on time. 
  • Student retention: Learning management systems can also offer valuable data about things like performance and attendance that directly correlate with retention rates.

Benefits of using LMS data for curriculum development

Benefits of using LMS data for curriculum development

The ultimate benefit of using LMS data for curriculum development is being able to make evidence-based decisions to improve the quality and effectiveness of each course offered at your institution. Updating your processes, course materials, and teaching styles with these insights in mind can help your college or university deliver the best student experiences possible. 

Additional benefits of using the insights from your LMS for curriculum development include:

  • Offering personalized learning experiences.
  • Optimizing the use of campus resources.
  • Identifying opportunities for professional growth.

Data is essential to developing the most effective, comprehensive, and impactful curriculum, elevating your higher education institution's overall deliverables for students and faculty. 

8 strategies for improving curriculum development with LMS data

LMS data analytics helps institutions identify trends and opportunities for growth. Explore the following eight tactics for boosting your college or university's curriculum development processes:

1. Establish student success baselines

One way higher education institutions can capitalize on LMS data is by using it to determine student performance baselines. Begin by analyzing the data collected from the system that outlines assessment results, engagement, and course progress. Every student is unique and learns in their own way, which means baselines are simply tools to gauge success compared to average performance in a course.

Specific benchmarks will help your institution manage student learning outcomes and ensure they acquire the knowledge needed to thrive after graduation. Establishing these standards is an important part of the curriculum development process because baseline data is integral to:

  • Identifying common learning gaps.
  • Supporting struggling students.
  • Gauging engagement with learning materials. 
  • Monitoring timely course progress.

You can also utilize your institution’s LMS data analytics to measure the likelihood that a student will complete their courses successfully and on time. 

2. Embrace personalized learning

Learning management system data can also boost curriculum development by offering the necessary insights to provide students with more personalized learning experiences. 

Identifying each learner's progress, strengths, weaknesses, prior knowledge, specific academic goals, and individualized learning styles can help your institution develop tailored learning paths to benefit students. These paths include challenging but attainable roadmaps to graduation that better support how each individual learns. Higher education institutions can use these insights to supercharge curriculum development and create more flexible learning programs. 

Offering adaptive learning paths is an excellent way for your college or university to support each student while setting them up for success in acquiring their degree. Offering personalized learning experiences can give your institution a competitive edge and help your student body excel. 

3. Assess learning outcomes

The data higher education institutions have access to through an LMS can help curriculum development teams assess whether or not students are meeting predetermined benchmarks for success and achievement. 

As your college or institution works through curriculum development, it can utilize these insights to update and refine learning outcomes that better reflect the competencies that you expect students to acquire by completing each course. 

You can evaluate LMS data analytics for college student success markers and use these insights to inform improvement efforts. Learning outcomes should be specific, measurable, and aligned with your institution's mission.

Sample learning outcomes include:

  • Students can demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the core theoretical concepts covered in the course.
  • Students can effectively communicate research findings in a clear and organized manner.
  • Students can successfully apply core concepts to analyze relevant material and form well-reasoned conclusions.

4. Gauge student engagement

Gauge student engagement

Institutions can use learning management system insights to monitor and analyze student engagement levels throughout different courses and programs. The data analytics from your college’s LMS can help you track key engagement metrics, such as:

  • Time spent on specific assignments or activities.
  • Participation in discussion board conversations.
  • Class attendance history.
  • Timely assignment submissions. 

By looking closer at the data, your team can identify patterns and opportunities for improvement within the existing framework. These insights can inform curriculum development to devise more captivating and effective courses. 

Design teams should consider ways to enhance student engagement wherever possible. Students who consistently remain focused, participate in class, and apply critical thinking throughout a course's duration tend to have significantly greater takeaways than those who do not.

5. Address knowledge gaps

The curriculum development process can benefit from using LMS data to quickly identify knowledge gaps or other areas where students are likely to struggle throughout a program. By flagging historically challenging topics or concepts in the coursework, colleges and universities can implement more effective resources to support greater success.

Having data about the following makes it easier for your institution to find common patterns in student behavior and performance:

  • Quiz or test scores
  • Completion rates
  • Interactions with peers and faculty

These metrics can offer insight into the effectiveness of course materials and teaching methods. If there is a particular knowledge gap, your curriculum development team can work to introduce stronger learning experiences around that concept. 

6. Optimize course progression

Another way to boost curriculum development is by utilizing LMS data to track student progression in the longer term. Your university or college can monitor how learners perform across various courses as they move through their schedules on each semester. Assessing these insights over time can help your team determine the smoothest advancement to more advanced courses. 

Many courses require a foundation of key principles students must have to succeed and adequately understand core concepts. You can utilize learning management system data to determine the best sequencing of courses within each program based on historical performance. 

Students who have the necessary building blocks and knowledge at the beginning of a new course are more likely to do well, stay on pace, and connect with the learning content. 

7. Assess student feedback and course evaluations

Student feedback is an important part of curriculum development. Their insights can help shape and enhance your institution's academic programs in various ways. Colleges and universities can use this information to gauge the effectiveness of course materials and certain teaching styles. 

A common challenge of student feedback is turning it into quantitative data that your curriculum development team can use to efficiently analyze. Learning management systems often feature built-in feedback and course evaluation tools that simplify the entire process. Your institution can quickly gather and assess what your students say about various courses, faculty performance, or degree roadmaps. 

Colleges and universities can use learner input to inform and refine curriculums to meet more student preferences and demands. 

8. Identify at-risk students

More than 1 million students drop out of higher education institutions each year. You can optimize your college’s LMS by using data analytics to identify at-risk students before they leave. 

Learning management systems can gather and provide historical insights that make it easier to see where students are most likely to discontinue their degree pursuits. Metrics like grades, attendance, and participation can all be useful in determining if a student could use additional support. 

Colleges and universities can work to boost student retention rates by implementing more resources for struggling students throughout curriculum development. They can also use these insights for early intervention to increase the likelihood of that individual remaining actively enrolled. 

Ultimately, LMS data helps institutions foster greater retention by adapting curriculums to align with learning outcomes and support student success.  

Request a demo of higher education software from Watermark today

If your higher education institution is looking to leverage LMS data for curriculum development, turn to Watermark. We have more than 20 years of experience helping colleges and universities make informed decisions to improve and evolve their institutions. 

We'll simplify and streamline data integrations with your campus systems so you can automatically capture data from your LMS and student information system (SIS). Our software integrates with all Learning Tools Interoperability-certified LMS platforms. 

Request a demo of higher education software from Watermark today

Are you interested in learning more about our solutions? Request a demo of higher education software from Watermark today. 

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