Digi know: The Blackboard Evaluation Tool

The Evaluation area within the Blackboard Control Panel, provides tutors with an easy way to check student engagement with Blackboard content and monitor progress against the module average. Tutors can choose to monitor individuals or groups of students who may be falling under a particular threshold of attainment or engagement, they can then communicate with them accordingly and take immediate action for improvement if necessary.

It is important to note that currently only tutors have access to the Evaluation area, students do not get to see data on their own performance, nor data on any of their wider cohort. The TEL Team would also recommend that all performance metrics are only used as a prompt for further investigation, statistics only tell a part of any story and whether or not a student is classed as ‘at risk’ is very much down to the discretion and discernment of individual tutors.

There are three constituent parts to the Evaluation area within Blackboard, they are as follows:

Module Reports:

Tools within this area allow tutors to run off reports at any time throughout the duration of the module lifecycle, and thereafter. Particularly useful are the reports on the ‘Overall Summary of User Activity’ and the ‘Course Activity Overview’. Tutors can choose to view data on specific students across specific timeframes, they can also run a report on the entire cohort across the full duration of the module.

Tip: If the report is viewed as ‘html’ as opposed to ‘pdf’, the report becomes dynamic and can be drilled into, meaning that the ‘Course Activity Overview’, for instance, becomes a handy way of viewing which students have been looking at certain pieces of content, when, and for how long.

Performance Dashboard:

The Performance Dashboard is a handy at a glance way to see when students last accessed your module, if they’ve viewed any pieces of content you may have set for ‘review’, and whether they’ve posted anything to the Blackboard Discussion Board.

Tip: If you have a particular piece of content that is important, such as assessment guidelines/criteria, and you want to check whether students have accessed it, set it for ‘review status’. Once this has been done you will be able to see at a glance whether that content has been viewed by using the Performance Dashboard.

To set the review status on a file or folder, turn on Edit Mode, click the downwards chevron arrow when you hover over the content, and choose ‘Review Status: On’. You will then be able to see who has accessed this content and when – by using the Performance Dashboard.

Retention Centre:

The Retention Centre is perhaps the most useful of the three tools in the Blackboard Evaluation area, because tutors can customise what appears in the ‘risk table’ and set the thresholds for determining when students are ‘at risk’. To create these rules, click on the ‘Customise’ label, when in the Retention Centre. Please note that there are a set of pre-configured rules in the Retention Centre, as set by Blackboard themselves.

Tip: By clicking on an individual student within the Retention Centre, tutors can access a 360 degree view of all student activity, against the module average. They can then choose to manually monitor a student if appropriate. Alternatively, by clicking on the ‘at risk bar’ at the top of the Retention Centre, tutors can choose to communicate to all at risk students collectively and perhaps make small interventions for immediate improvement, if appropriate.

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