Students love to hear good news about how well they're doing in their courses or how their performance — good or bad — compares to other students in the class, according to a research project undertaken by Blackboard's analytics and research team. Students also demonstrated a clear preference for notifications comparing them relative to other students over notifications showing changes in their achievement over time. This is a key advantage of these type of notifications and learning analytics dashboards. Student responses confirm student interest in this type of feature. Further, students appear to be most interested in notifications that recognize positive achievement compared to those that identify areas for improvement, counter to the intent of most notifications, which is to identify at-risk students and help motivate changes in behavior. One implication from this study is that by knowing that students with declining grades are likely to continue the pattern, a sudden grade decrease early in a semester is an important signal for an early outreach opportunity for instructors and academic advisors.
Whitmer, J., Nasiatka, D., & Harfield, T. (2017). Blackboard data science research brief student interest & patterns in learning analytics notifications. Washington, DC: Blackboard. http://www.blackboard.com/resources/pdf/report_ultratriggers.pdf