Academic Technology @ Palomar College

Recognizing student performance problems early in Blackboard

In a typical online course, making sure that all students are keeping up can be difficult. It’s rarely possible to check on the progress of each student every step of the way. The Blackboard Early Warning System allows an instructor to setup rules to identify when a student is falling behind and then notify them by email.

There are a few different ways that the Early Warning System can analyze student progress. For example, a rule can be setup to identify all students who have not logged in for a given number of days. Once the students are flagged, an email can be sent to them letting them know that they are not meeting the expectations for the course. Even better, if a students overall grade percentage falls below a certain threshold a notification email can be sent.

Setting up rules in the Early Warning System is easy. Blackboard has produced a short video on how to create a rule. Once the rule has been created, it is important to remember that it must be “refreshed” periodically to identify students who meet the criteria. Here is an example of a rule after it has been refreshed:

Early Warning System rules

After a rule has been "refreshed", the Number of Warnings column will show how many students met the criteria

In the example above, 1 out of 23 students has not accessed the Blackboard course for more than 7 days. From there it is easy to access the Review Rule Status to see a list of students along with information about whether or not they met the rule criteria.

Review Rule Status option

The Review Rule Status option will display a list of your students along with whether or not they have met the criteria

When multiple students have met the criteria it is easy to send them all the same message or customize the message for each student. The Blackboard system keeps track of the notifications that were sent out so that you can always view when you last notified a student about a specific Early Warning System rule.

There are three types of rules that can be created:

  • Grade Rule
  • Last Access Rule
  • Due Date Rule

It is important to remember is that the rules do not run constantly in the background. You must access the Blackboard Early Warning System area (Control Panel -> Evaluation -> Early Warning System) and refresh the rules periodically. Also, the system does not automatically notify students. Remember to send the notifications after refreshing rules if there were students that met the criteria. With the right combination of rules Blackboard can help make sure that no students “fall through the cracks”. More information about the Blackboard Early Warning System can be found on Blackboard’s help site.

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