ECR Research Grant

Funding Guidelines


The SoLAR ECR Research Grant serves to support promising early career researchers who demonstrate the potential to advance research and practice in learning analytics and increase the educational and socio-economic impacts of learning analytics. Proposed projects should improve our understanding of learning analytics and learning in general, result in positive impacts on education, and align with the topics identified for the current round. It is expected that the ECR grant will help successful applicants develop their career by enabling an initiative that is scalable or has potential to attract further funding.

Applicant eligibility

Applications from individuals based in academic or not-for-profit organizations are welcome, provided the individuals hold valid SoLAR membership when applying and for the term of the project. Applicants need to have been awarded with a PhD qualification no longer than 5 years prior to the application deadline. Each applicant may only submit one application, and each application can only have one named applicant. Past awardees or current SoLAR executive committee members are not eligible to apply.

2024 Themes - The role of learning analytics in the age of Artificial Intelligence

As interest in AI, and especially generative AI, in education continues to rise rapidly, ethical considerations and challenges of inclusion remain important issues for the field (Bond et al., 2024). The field of learning analytics can contribute to these issues by providing a synergised framework that grounds AI innovation and methodology in learners and learning (Yan et al., 2024). This positioning opens up promising avenues of research to bring the two fields together. We welcome proposals of research that showcase the practicalities, possibilities and challenges in integrating these two fields to foster ethical use of genAI in education as well as to mitigate the digital divide. Example topics include, but are not limited to:


  • Understand the impact of AI technologies on student learning and teaching;
  • Identify innovative AI driven methodologies and tools to gain insights into learning;
  • Understand how AI technologies impact different strands of learning analytics research, e.g., personalised feedback, writing analytics research, self-regulated learning, etc.;
  • Explore how learning analytics can be used to foster insights into new AI literacies, such as prompt engineering;
  • Explore the role of learning analytics in futures literacy;  
  • Examine how generative AI impacts learning and assessment, and how learning analytics can help; 
  • Make sense of the intersections of humans and AI in practices of learning analytics; 
  • Enhance the use of learning analytics with explainable AI;
  • Evaluate the impact of learning analytics on institutional strategy development and monitoring; 
  • Explore how institutions navigate ethical considerations of AI when adopting learning analytics;
  • Explore how to ensure trustworthiness of learning analytics and AI in education in parallel with data protection and informed consent of data owners; 
  • Understand ways that algorithmic fairness & biases in AI technologies may affect learners.
  • Explore ways learning analytics may incorporate AI to tackle major challenges in education, such as educational equity and quality.

Level of award 

A total of $15,000 CAD is available to fund one to two projects. Funds will be managed directly by SoLAR via approved expense invoices.

Awardee(s) will also receive publicity via SoLAR’s channels to help them connect with the community, complimentary registration for a regional Learning Analytics Summer Institute (LASI) or LAP event, and the International Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference (LAK).

Eligible costs include:

  • Direct costs of research (e.g., consumables, specialist software, transcribing/ interpretation services, and compensation for research participants). Note that the following items are not eligible costs: institutional overheads, computer hardware, books and other permanent resources.
  • Research assistance - Funding can be used to pay for research assistants that are not named on the project based on SoLAR’s fixed hourly rate (i.e. $35CAD) under an agreed total flat amount. Awardees may utilise SoLAR’s communication channels for job advertisements.
  • No more than a third of the awarded amount of funding can be used for dissemination purposes including publications, conferences, and workshops. 
  • Visits by or to partners of the project to facilitate research activities or dissemination that meet a clearly specified research objective.

Note that successful applicants will be given a spotlight moment at LAK to describe their work, and will be given a poster slot to report results. Travel and accommodation costs to attend LAK and LASI to present their results can be included in the budget if applicable.

Period of award

Grants are tenable for 12 months from the date of award. Unused funds will expire after this period and cannot be claimed. 

Selection process and criteria

Applications will be assessed by external reviewers based on the following criteria:  

  • Project quality and innovation
    • Key contributions to existing gaps in knowledge or problems
    • Novelty and originality of the project
    • Clarity, coherence, and rigour of the research design
  • Project feasibility
    • Project design and budget planning are reasonable for successful completion of the project and demonstrating value for money
    • The capability of applicants and availability of facilities needed to carry out the project
  • Project benefits and impacts
    • Contributions to the field
    • Social, cultural, and economic impacts on society
    • Scalability and sustainability of impacts
  • Project relevance to the topics prioritised in the call
  • Applicant profile
    • Relevant expertise and experience required to carry out the project
    • Academic achievements and output quality
    • Commitment and contributions to the learning analytics community

Expectations of awardees

Awardees are required to:

  • Submit an interim report on project progress no later than sixth months from the date the grant is awarded.
  • Submit a research report no later than three months from the completion  of the project detailing outcomes of the work undertaken and next steps.
  • Disseminate project outputs via one of SoLAR’s existing communication channels (e.g., Nexus blog, webinar, SoLAR Spotlight podcast, and Journal of Learning Analytics) as appropriate in support of SoLAR’s mission to promote learning analytics research and practice.

Application guidelines

Submission procedure

Please complete the online application form, which includes the following components:

  • Applicant information
  • Project title 
  • Project summary (1250 characters max)
  • Project fit for the themes of the year (1000 characters max)

In the application form, please upload one PDF file containing:

  • Max 4 pages: Project description (including title, summary, aims and objectives, research scheme, methods, timeline, budget, ethical procedures, expected outcome and impact, and project fit for the themes of the year)
  • Max 2 pages: CV of the applicants including relevant publications

In addition, a recommendation letter (1 page max) needs to be e-mailed by the referee directly to before the application deadline.


Key dates:

Application open: 27 March 2024 

Submission deadline: 3 May 2024 (5pm EDT) 

Results announcement: 5 July 2024


Yizhou Fan, Peking University

2023 Recipient

Catherine Manly, Farleigh Dickinson University
2022 Recipient



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