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Decision processes to improve pedagogical designs have been commonly based on the superficial comparison between learning design and students’ results. This article focuses on proposing other ways of analysing the learning experience in higher education by exploring the (1) “participant’s declared performance” (PDP) as a collection of complex data, as well as (2) the qualitative visual network analysis (VNA), as a sustainable technique, to be used for untangling the learning activity. For this purpose, a mixed-method naturalistic case study of a pre-service teacher training course in a Spanish university, run by one professor and with the participation of 58 students, is presented. Materials collected included course design documentation regarding tasks and performance roles, students’ blog posts and satisfaction questionnaires. Findings demonstrate that the joint analysis of various elements – including PDP and VNA – shows the correspondence between learning design and student’s experiences. It also highlights prominent design aspects and weaknesses and provides insights for improving the learning design in future course editions. The reflection on PDP and VNA’s use is an opportunity to provide, feasibly and sustainably, qualitative information for educators to research their pedagogical practices.
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