Chapter 15

Handbook of Learning Analytics
First Edition

Epistemic Network Analysis:
A Worked Example of Theory-Based
Learning Analytics

David Williamson Shaffer & Andrew R. Ruis


In this article, we provide a worked example of a theory-based approach to learning analytics in the context of an educational game. We do this not to provide an ideal solution for others to emulate, but rather to explore the affordances of a theory-based — rather than data-driven — approach. We do so by presenting 1) epistemic frame theory as an approach to the conceptualization of learning; 2) data from an epistemic game, an approach to educational game design based on epistemic frame theory; and 3) epistemic network analysis (ENA), a technique for analyzing discourse and other data for evidence of complex thinking based on the same theory. We describe ENA through a specific analytic result, but our aim is to explore how this result exemplifies what we consider a key “best practice” in the field of learning analytics.

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