Dr Marion Blumenstein

Dr rer nat, Diplom Biol, PG Cert AcadPrac


I am a biologist by training, a researcher by heart, and a teacher by passion. I graduated from the University of Bremen in biology, and after having already lived and worked in New Zealand for several years, went back to Germany and completed my doctorate in cancer research (Dr rer nat) at the University of Hamburg in 1997. Back in New Zealand, my first postdoctoral position at the University of Auckland focused on molecular pathways in preterm birth which led to my involment in a large international study on finding biomarkers for the early prediction of the pregnancy complication preeclampsia (SCOPE project).

In early 2009 I changed from a purely research-based career to student learning advising with a focus on postgraduate research skills development including quantitative literacy, academic writing, and research design. In 2015 I joined CLeaR to work in the rapidly growing field of learning analytics. I aim to provide capacity building opportunities for academics on how to utilize learning analytics data to understand and optimize student learning. My expertise in biomedical research, which taught me to be rigorous from the research design stage through to the dissemination of results, combined with my knowledge of student  learning issues gained over the last ten years brings together my passion for teaching and research.

Research | Current

Learning analytics

I am currently involved in the implementation of the open-source learning analytics tool OnTask in several large  lectures. The OnTask Project aims to improve the academic experience of students through the delivery of timely, personalised and actionable student feedback throughout their participation in a course based on learning analytics. I work closely with teaching staff and student success teams towards analytics-informed teaching practice for the optimisation of learning and course design. 

Currently, OnTask is piloted in three large first year courses at the University of Auckland  involving teachers, course coordinators, student mentoring teams, and academic advisors. Please contact me if you woud like to know more about this initiative or like to hear about our experience at UoA so far.

Teaching | Current

I consider students as partners in the process of learning and creating knowledge. My teaching style is therefore reflexive, helping students "to get it" in a collaborative, knowledge-sharing way. From my own practice I often learn about new perspectives, methods or ways of doing from my students. In other words, teachers become learners, and vice versa, learners become teachers which can be quite revealing at times!

Teaching activities - current

CLeaR Teaching Catalyst - "Learning design in action" (pre-S1 and pre-S2)

Bioscience Enterprise Programme: SCIENT 720 "Research methods" (S1)

Master in Higher Education Programme: HIGHED 704 "Research project methods" (S2) 


Postgraduate supervision

I am looking for opportunities to supervise doctoral candidates in the field of higher education research. I am comfortable with theoretical approaches to pedagogies of teaching and learning in tertiary education settings. My particular research focus is on learning analytics towards the optimisation of student learning and the study experience. I have expertise in both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.


Doctoral candidates:

2019 to present Bing Xu "Detecting emergent leaders and exploring their influence in computer-supportive collaborative learning" *Main supervisor (Assoc. Prof Jason Stephens, FESW and Dr Steve Leichtweis, CLeaR; co-supervisors)

2018 to present Shi Shu " Enhancing MOOCs: Using instructional design to keep learners' motivation in a MOOC environment" *Co-supervisor (Assoc. Prof Jason Stephens, FESW; main supervisor) 

2017 to present  Linda Yu "A study of Chinese doctoral students' emotional issues in adaptation to academic English writing in New Zealand Higher Education" *Co-supervisor (Prof. Helen Sword, CLeaR; main supervisor)


Master in Bioscience Enterprise:

2018 - 2019 (completed)  Evelyn Ke " Understanding value co-creation from innovation in a complex stakeholder network: A case study of veterinary diagnostics in the NZ dairy industry" *Academic supervisor (Howard Moore, Pictor NZ; industry supervisor)

2017 - 2018  (graduated) Sam Wojcik "Barriers to precision oncology and companion diagnostics in New Zealand" *Academic supervisor (Hadley Slade-Jones, PWC; industry supervisor)

2017 - 2018  (graduated )Bryce Lowen "Factors that shape European point-of-care diagnostic markets: A comparative study of reimbursement decisions" *Academic supervisor (Esther Miralles, Synergus AB, Sweden; industry supervisor)



2018 Leading a cohort of colleagues through the Higher Education Academy (HEA UK) Fellowships accreditation as part of a Community of Interest.

2017 Facilitation of the CLeaR Lights Leadership in Teaching Programme; fostering a collegial culture of research-informed teaching across the University.

Areas of expertise


  • Learning Analytics
  • Research Skills Development
  • Academic Development
  • Data Literacy
  • Research Design
  • Biomedical Research

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Lodge, J., Thompson, K., Horvath, J., de Barba, P., & Blumenstein, M. (2018). Learning analytics in the classroom. Paper presented at ASCILITE 2018 - Open Oceans: Learning without borders, Geelong, Australia. 25 November - 28 November 2018. ASCILITE 2018 - Open Oceans: Learning without borders. Related URL.
  • Nadeem, M., Blumenstein, M., & Biglari-Abhari, M. (2018). Exploring the Impact of In-Class Writing Exercises in an Engineering Course. Proceedings of IEEE TALE 2018: Engineering Next-Generation Learning, 342-349. Wollongong, NSW, Australia: IEEE. 10.1109/TALE.2018.8615411
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/45306
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Morteza Biglari-Abhari
  • Blumenstein, M., Liu, D. Y. T., Richards, D., Leichtweis, S., & Stephens, J. M. (2018). Data-informed nudges for student engagement and success. In J. M. Lodge, J. C. Horvath, L. Corrin (Eds.) Learning analytics in the classroom translating learning analytics for teachers (pp. 185-207). Routledge. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/45338
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jason Stephens
  • Gunn, C., McDonald, J., Donald, C., Milne, J., & Blumenstein, M. (2017). Building an evidence base for teaching and learning design using learning analytics: Project report. Wellington, New Zealand: Ako Aotearoa.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Cathy Gunn, Claire Donald
  • Blumenstein, M., McDonald, J., Gunn, C., & Leichtweis, S. (2017). Let’s talk student engagement: Connecting teachers and students using learning analytics. Paper presented at 17th Biennial conference of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI), Tampere, Finland. 27 August - 2 September 2017.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/40870
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Cathy Gunn
  • Blumenstein, M., Leichtweis, S., & McDonald, J. (8/5/2017). Learning analytics in practice: Nudging students towards study success. Poster presented at The Higher Education Technology Agenda (THETA) 2017, Auckland, New Zealand..
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/41296
  • Padhye, L. P., & Blumenstein, M. (2017). In-class and asynchronous student response systems: A comparison of student participation and perceived effectiveness. Paper presented at 28th Australasian Association for Engineering Association Conference (AAEE 2017), Sydney, Australia. 10 December - 13 October 2017. 28th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2017): Order of Proceedings.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/40866
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Lokesh Padhye
  • Sword, H., Blumenstein, M., Kwan, A., Shen, L., & Trofimova, E. (2017). Seven ways of looking at a data set. Qualitative Inquiry, 24 (7), 499-508. 10.1177/1077800417729847
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/44277
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Helen Sword


Contact details

Alternative contact

Located at CLeaR, Fisher Building, R804-403, ext. 82479

Office hours

Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Primary office location

Level 4, Room 403
New Zealand

Web links