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Analysing and Understanding Moodle Resources


In order to better understand which Moodle resources are the most beneficial to students in the Department of Economics, Professors Caroline Elliott and Lory Barile have been analysing data taken from Moodle. In addition to finding clear patterns of usage, Profs. Elliott and Barile undertook a statistical analysis of the data by comparing it to data concerning students’ overall performance and background. This allowed Profs. Elliott and Barile to think statistically about which Moodle resources are more likely to result in student success and how this varies depending on the student. For example, they found that home students and international students saw different results depending on which Moodle resources they accessed.

While this project began with the aim of advising teaching staff in the Economics department on which Moodle resources are the most popular and beneficial for students, Profs. Elliott and Barile also began using this as a tool for advising students on which Moodle resources might be best suited to them. Comparing the Moodle data to other data concerning student background and performance, allows staff in Economics to tailor their advice to each student.

Lesson plan

  1. Profs. Elliott and Barile began by pulling data from Moodle. Most virtual learning environments (VLEs) collect the same kinds of data, so this can be done regardless of which VLE is used.
  2. They then looked for clear patterns of usage. These results were largely in line with expectations, for example there was an increase in the number of students accessing resources in the lead up to exams.
  3. Profs. Elliott and Barile compared the data pulled from Moodle to data on students’ overall performance, as well as background data collected during the application process. They also controlled for factors such as first-year performance, A Levels, gender, ethnicity and type of schooling.
  4. This allowed Profs. Elliott and Barile to look at which resources contributed to student success and how this varied from student to student. This could then be used to advise both staff and students.

Tutor's observations

I think the main thing is that it doesn't matter what the VLE is… nowadays all VLEs collect the same data that Moodle does. So even if colleagues don't want to do the statistical analysis of which resources are most beneficial to students in their module performance, at least they can really easily get the data that tell them students are using the lecture notes, students aren't using the past exam resources, students aren't using the quirky films from YouTube etc.…And that can be really helpful to colleagues because I think there has been this temptation [to think] great I can put so many things on the VLE, but actually we can be a bit more targeted in terms of the resources we put on the VLE and that will help colleagues because we're all under time pressure.

Student testimonies

Sometimes Moodle seems a bit confusing to me. I don't know if that's just me. I just feel like there's a lot of stuff going on.

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