Monitoring student engagement and progress
Monitoring students’ engagement and progress in their learning is an important role for a unit chair, and is tied to knowing your cohort. Our students come from diverse backgrounds and learning experiences. They will have different strengths and different support needs. Student engagement is multi-faceted and here you can find some suggestions of ways in which you can determine how your students are progressing through the unit.
Taking attendance on CloudDeakin
Using the attendance function in your unit site is a helpful way to centralise the collection of student attendance data and helps you understand Campus-based students’ attendance patterns. You can get a sense of student activity and this may help you with making decisions around special requests from students.
To set up an attendance list in your unit site, contact Learning Innovations at General Requests – Learning Innovation after the timetable has been released to students. Of course, you may like to maintain attendance records manually.
Note that the size of your lecture can make recording attendance impractical, so if you want to capture attendance data, focussing on seminar activities may be the better option.
Checking class progress on CloudDeakin
Class progress gives you an indication of which resources and pages a student has accessed on the unit site. Class progress can be found either in the Tools drop-down menu, or in Setup.
On the initial landing page, you can see:
- The students’ names, their ID and login
- Resources – a bar showing the students’ progression through unit content
- Logins – students’ 30 day history of accessing the unit site
Clicking on a students’ name will give you a detailed report of their use of the unit site.
Although this information cannot tell you to what extent the student read or interacted with the resources, you can quickly see whether they have accessed anything or whether their access behaviour changed significantly after a certain week. You might use this to see whether there were any resources in your unit site that students accessed frequently and infrequently (or not at all!).
You can get a sense of what resources might need to be redeveloped or, if they are essential, you could provide more emphasis on those resources in the announcements or in your lectures and seminars.
Also, if you are meeting with a student who has asked for assistance, or feedback after the examination has taken place, you could see whether they had accessed the relevant information on the unit site and use this information to shape your advice to them.
You may notice that students have posted many questions about their first assessment on the discussion board. This may indicate that students are struggling to understand the task requirements.
To assist them, you could record a short video or a recorded PPT, where you not only explain the assessment brief but also directly respond to some of the queries raised by students. This strategy has been used effectively in units where, after posting a video and directing students to it, the unit team noticed a significant decline in questions posted to the discussion forum.
It is important that you, or a member of your teaching team, responds to the discussion posts within two working days. Also, it is necessary to close the discussion board at 5pm on the day prior to the End of Unit Assessment Task or Examination, to prevent students posting anything that could compromise the task for other students.
Assessments, particularly those submitted early in the trimester, are one of the best indicators for how students are progressing both individually and collectively. This gives you an indication of students’ attainment of the ULOs, and can help you identify any gaps in their learning to date.
You might then supplement their knowledge by modifying the content of lectures or seminars in the remaining weeks and potentially providing students with additional resources. You can also use this information if you have multiple coursework assessments to see whether student performance is improving or declining over the trimester.
Once students’ assessments have been marked, you can look at how the cohort’s marks are dispersed. To find this
- Go to ‘Assessment’ (top menu bar)
- Select ‘Assignments’ from the drop-down menu
- Select the relevant assessment item
- Click on any student submission
- On the right-hand side, scroll down until you see the rubrics title, and click on the bar graph icon.
A new window will pop-up giving you an overview of: number of submissions, average mark, and dispersion of grades.
You can also view the dispersion for each criterion. To do this, click the ‘Criteria Statistics’ tab. This allow you to see whether a particular learning outcome was not achieved by the majority of students.
Using this information, some Unit Chairs will provide feedback to the whole cohort via unit site, summarising the overall performance and highlighting areas of strength and weakness. It is a valuable way to highlight to students where they may need to further develop their skills and/or knowledge and signpost the ways that they can do it to prepare for the next assessment. Students often find this helpful without feeling singled out.
In conjunction with the above information, you can set up intelligent agents to send emails to a specific cohort of students. These are set up prior to the trimester, and sent out as triggered by your settings for each agent. For example, you could send an email to students who:
- Haven’t logged into the unit site or attended any seminars by the end of week 3: checking in, advising them of support options, etc.
- Failed an early assessment: advising them of what they can do and where they can go for support
- Received an HD: congratulating them on their good work
For more information and examples for when you might use an intelligent agent see the information available on the DTeach site. It is important to plan for the use of the agents carefully and use them sparingly so that students do not see them as an artificial communication that they then ignore.
It is also important to note that it is difficult to know the reach of your emails that target students who have not been attending seminars or accessing the unit site because you cannot know if these students are also not reading their Deakin email.
If you think you would like to use an intelligent agent in your unit, contact the Learning Innovations team General Requests – Learning Innovation for help setting it up.
Check-in with unit team
In addition to the information available on CloudDeakin, your unit team is also a valuable resource in understanding student progress. You can:
- check in with the tutors to find out how students are engaging with the materials and activities in the seminars
- gather observations from the markers about the quality of submissions they have been marking and any re-occurring issues that you could address in seminars and/or online resources.
If you are concerned about the progress of your cohort and are not sure what to do to address it, you should discuss the situation with your Director of Teaching.