Breadcrumbs: Analyzing Classroom Data

Most classes use one or more tools (Gradescope, My Digital Hand, Piazza, Sakai, etc.) to keep the course running smoothly. When students use these tools, they create data at many levels (breadcrumbs) that could be collected and mined for insights on how to make the class better.

Students were involved in formulating questions, analyzing data, and drawing conclusions. Some specific questions we sought to answer using this data included: How do students use office hours? Are there clear trends that can be predicted and thus change how UTAs are allocated to reduce office hour wait time? How do students seek help on all the available support resources? Does some support help students more than others? Could we use those insights to create a recommender system for students, so they get better help more quickly? What are the predictors of success in the class? Could those predictors be influenced, so more students are successful in the class?

Participating Students

Lucian Li

Lucian Li
Lucian is a rising senior from Houston, TX pursuing a double major in history and computer science. He is interested in understanding the use of technology in enhancing education, as well as how computer technologies are changing the experience of teachers and students. Next year, he will be composing his senior thesis in history, and he will be pursuing graduate education after graduation.

Jaylyn Barbee

Jaylyn Barbee
I am Jaylyn Barbee from Durham, NC, majoring in Computer Science and graduating in 2021. I one day hope to be a software engineer, working on problem that will change the world, but for now I enjoy playing video games, watching YouTube and cooking. This project caught my eye because I am going to be a part of the data we will be exploring. Hopefully through this we can find better ways, as students, to take advantage of our resources.


Our undergraduate summer program concluded August 2, 2019 with a research showcase and projects fair which featured posters demonstrating what our students have been doing all summer.

Breadcrumbs Project Poster at Summer 2019 Research Showcase
Summer Research Showcase: Breadcrumbs Project, with participating student and Professors Kristin Stephens-Martinez and Jeff Forbes.

Project Materials

Breadcrumbs Presentation

  • Undergraduate Researchers: Jaylyn Barbee, Lucian Li
  • Mentor: Yesenia Velasco
  • Leads: Dr. Kristin Stephens-Martinez and Dr. Jeff Forbes


On July 19 at the end of week 7 of their 10-week summer program developing research projects with computer science faculty, students presented their results to date. The audience was comprised of about 100 people, including students and mentors from Data+, Code+, and SUPICS, the summer undergraduate projects in computer science. Below, Jaylyn Barbee presents with his teammate Lucian Li on their summer project analyzing fine grained data from introductory CS courses to learn how to best improve student learning.

Breadcrumbs July 19 Presentations