Taking Action

In general, the goal in collecting quantitative and qualitative data throughout the semester is to be able to intervene early enough that students are able to get back on track before they are at risk of failing the course. Practically, however, you may have to implement changes in the next iteration of the course. Just make sure that if you’ve asked for feedback mid-semester that you act on at least one suggestion so students know their view was valued. You can even explain to them what action steps you will be taking in future semesters based on their advice.

Likewise, you may receive conflicting messages from the group, or a request to change something that you’ve designed strategically and are not willing to change. This is normal but it’s important to share these situations with the class so individuals understand why you’ve chosen not to accommodate their request. You may also choose to provide differentiated instruction based on your data analysis. This allows for individualization in learning and demonstration of learning.

How to Contact Students

When you decide to intervene, your LMS likely provides several methods of contacting students who are underperforming or who are not active in the course. Your gradebook may allow you to “Message students who…” where you can e-mail remediation information to all students who scored below mastery on an assignment.

Content/Instruction Changes

After you’ve assessed what can be done to improve learning, take action on as many suggestions as practically possible. If you used a Stop, Start, Continue discussion board in your course, you should implement ideas from both the Start and Stop suggestion lists. You may identify an aspect of your course that you’d prefer to change after the course ends, so that it will be updated the next time the course is offered. For example, if you notice that a question on an exam could be misinterpreted, but 40% of your students have already taken the test, it’s probably best to adjust the grading on that exam, and then fix the question for the next time the test is offered. This way all of the students in your course have taken the same assessment and can be compared to each other fairly.

For the changes you make to a course while it is running, be sure to alert students that you are making a change. Send an announcement to all students, and be sure to update your course site and syllabus accordingly. If the change is based on current student feedback, let them know that is what prompted the adjustment.

Moving Forward

After you have collected and analyzed your data and implemented changes, you must collect data again and analyze it to determine whether your change has had the expected effect on the class. This process of continuous quality improvement can be used to build reliable and effective course content over time.