The impact of disadvantage on higher education engagement during different delivery modes: a pre- vs. peri-pandemic comparison of learning analytics data


The pandemic forced many education providers to pivot rapidly their models of education to increased online provision, raising concerns that this may accentuate effects of digital poverty on education. Digital footprints created by learning analytics systems contain a wealth of information about student engagement. Combining these data with student demographics can provide significant insights into the behaviours of different groups. Here we present a comparison of students’ data from disadvantaged versus non-disadvantaged backgrounds on four different engagement measures. Our results showed some indications of effects of disadvantage on student engagement in a UK university, but with differential effects for asynchronously versus synchronously delivered digital material. Pre-pandemic, students from disadvantaged backgrounds attended more live teaching, watched more pre-recorded lectures, and checked out more library books than students from non-disadvantaged backgrounds. Peri-pandemic, where teaching was almost entirely online, these differences either disappeared (attendance and library book checkouts), or even reversed such that disadvantaged students viewed significantly fewer pre-recorded lectures. These findings have important implications for future research on student engagement and for institutions wishing to provide equitable opportunities to their students, both peri- and post-pandemic.

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Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
College of Health & Life Sciences > Clinical and Systems Neuroscience
College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Optometry > Vision, Hearing and Language
College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > School of Computer Science and Digital Technologies > Applied Mathematics & Data Science
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > School of Computer Science and Digital Technologies
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Learning analytics,digital poverty,disadvantage,higher education,student engagement,Education
Publication ISSN: 1469-297X
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2024 07:23
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2022 09:52
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Related URLs: https://www.tan ... 38.2021.2024793 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2023
Published Online Date: 2022-01-09
Accepted Date: 2021-12-23
Authors: Summers, Robert (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-4857-7354)
Higson, Helen (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-3433-2823)
Moores, Elisabeth (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-3997-0832)



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