Analytics tools for Sydney teachers

We are actively adding to the suite of learning analytics tools available to teachers at the University of Sydney. General queries about these tools can be directed to Professor Adam Bridgeman, Director Educational Innovation within the Education Portfolio.

Track and Connect is a proactive early intervention program working to actively support and retain first year undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students across many of the University’s faculties. Founded in best-practice research, the program was developed in consultation with Counselling and Psychological Services and faculty academics by staff in Student Support Services within the DVC (Registrar) Portfolio, in response to a study into first year undergraduate student attrition by the University’s Planning and Information Office. The program provides tailored advice and support to students identified as at risk of withdrawal from a key first-year subject by demographic markers along with real-time engagement and assessment data from the faculties. These students are contacted by phone by senior student peers and provided with information, encouragement and service referrals at key decision making points throughout the semester. This early intervention program aims to identify students at risk of failure or discontinuation and connect them with their faculty's academic support mechanisms and to other University services such as the Learning Centre, Mathematics Learning Centre, Scholarships and Financial Support Service, Counselling and Psychological Services, Accommodation Service, Child Care Information Office, and Disability Services. The goal of this enhanced support is to decrease the amount of unnecessary attrition, and encourage students' persistence, engagement, and sense of belonging at the University. If you are an academic staff member coordinating a large first year unit of study, and interested in finding out more about Track and Connect, please contact Dr Sophia Barnes.

The Knowing Your Students (KYS) report is being piloted for the first time in Semester 1, 2016, and is now available for all standard units of study across the University. It uses centrally-held information to provide a detailed description of the cohort in each unit of study. It updates each night so that it reflects the sometimes large changes in enrolments that occur over the first few weeks of semester. As the system develops and ideas come in from teachers, additional information will be added. If you are teaching in a unit of study this semester, you can access the report for your students by following the 'Unit of Study Analytics' link in the 'Evaluation' section of your unit website on the LMS. A mock report is available here. Queries related to the KYS should be directed initially to Adam Bridgeman, who can put you in touch with the appropriate person within the Educational Innovation Team – an academic staff member if your query relates to advice on using the report to enhance teaching and learning, or a technical staff member if your query relates to access issues, etc.

Four Blackboard Analytics reports are also being piloted University-wide for the first time in Semester 1, 2016. These are available via the 'Unit of Study Analytics' link in the 'Evaluation' section of your unit LMS site. As the semester develops, you can also use these reports to help you understand how your students are engaging and progressing. This information could be used, for example to provide additional resources or assistance at specific times of the semester, spot the activities that increase or decrease engagement, or help you re-design your assessments and unit of study based on evidence of what students are doing. Tips on reading the reports and setting up your site to maximise their potential can be in the quick guide. Queries related to the Blackboard Analytics reports should be directed initially to Adam Bridgeman, who can put you in touch with the appropriate person within the Educational Innovation Team.

The Student Relationship Engagement System (SRES). The SRES is web-based software that allows teachers to easily and efficiently collect and analyse data about their students. Quickly collect attendance, marks, and other data using a mobile app, and easily import grades and other data from files you may have on hand. Once you have your data in the SRES, use powerful and customisable filters to personalise your feedback to students and engage with them through email and SMS. Other teachers at the University have already been using the SRES to send students personalised feedback, reminders, and updates, as well as reach out to students who are at risk of failing the unit of study and monitor attendance at labs, tutorials and lectures. In addition, there is a new analytics/machine learning feature that is being piloted. This feature allows teachers to uncover hidden patterns in their student data, reflect on how students and staff are interacting with their unit, and make evidence-informed decisions about how best to support or challenge students and improve the unit design. We invite you to register for the upcoming SRES workshop on Tuesday 15 March 12-2pm. All queries related to the SRES should be directed to Dr Danny Liu.