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The benefits of switching on Moodle completion tracking

For Jane Burns (UCL School of Management), Moodle’s completion tracking has proven to be a quick, useful and tangible way of finding out which of her students might benefit from extra assistance.

2 October 2015

She describes the process, the benefits and her plans for utilising the subsequent data in the future.

Why?

“I wanted to get a very quick snapshot view of which students were fully engaged on my first year undergraduate module (MSIN7009: Introduction to Marketing) early enough to be able to intercept any non or low engagement students and steer them in the direction of the right behaviours.”

What I did

“Every activity set up on Moodle can have completion tracking switched on. It’s down at the bottom of the parameters and can be either off, students can mark activities as complete themselves or you can set the criteria by which the activity is judged complete (either student has viewed the item, or student has received a grade for the activity). I worked out which activities were a proxy for engagement (preparation activities, quizzes, readings etc.)

As the course rolls along, a student footprint is effectively created which can be viewed at any time using the Moodle report facility (completion tracking is the final option on the list). This gives you a list of all students in the cohort and a very quick picture of engagement levels. I could see immediately which students were using Moodle and accessing materials regularly, which ones were being highly selective (e.g. just downloading lecture slides), and which weren’t using the materials at all. The data is downloadable to a spreadsheet, so very easy to handle and refine.”

What happened next?

“Firstly, I was able to intercept the low/no Moodle usage students and try to find out whether they had a problem with access or attitude to the module work requirements. I let them know that I was on the case and expected more. It proved a bit of a wake up call. In the coming year I will be providing a summary of this early warning intelligence to students’ personal tutors for follow up.

I was also able to take another snapshot at the end of the course and I’m currently mapping the Moodle completion behaviours to exam performance. Early indicators are (as might be expected) that there is a strong correlation between Moodle completion activity, likely time on task and exam performance.”

What’s next?

“I’m looking at how to combine completion data across a whole programme for a cohort of students to provide an early warning dashboard for students who might be struggling (for a variety of reasons) and get active engagement between this intelligence and the module leaders and personal tutors for the year group.”

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