Canvas LMS tools for tracking student engagement

A couple of days ago I read a study by Civitas of more than 600,000 students, which found that low student engagement with the LMS was significantly correlated with dropping out. Having just returned from #InstCon, I immediately started thinking about how we at OU could use some of the reports and API tools from Canvas to identify students with low LMS engagement levels.

On the scale of an individual course, instructors at OU can access student activity reports through the people menu item.

Screenshot of the Canvas LMS people menu

You can then click on the ‘Access Report’ for that student which will bring up the number of times the student has viewed each item in the Canvas course, their participation with the Canvas assignments and the Last Viewed time for those items:

Canvas LMS student access report

As an instructor, you could use the student access data to identify those students who have not viewed or interacted with your course for a few days or a week and send a message to those students reminding them of the importance of consistent engagement and timely interactions.

Another strategy for using Canvas engagement data is simply emailing students who haven’t turned in an assignment. On every assignment in the Canvas gradebook, there’s a little arrow to indicate a dropdown menu. From that menu, you can select “Email students who….” This will bring up a menu to allow you to email all students who have yet to turn in an assignment or those students who scored below a certain threshold, or those students who did a great job that you want to praise.

At the university level, we could use the Canvas API to collect data on the activity of all of our students. We could then develop a report to identify those students with lower LMS usage and possibly refer them to student retention counselors. However, this report would likely be a better indicator of those departments and colleges that don’t use the LMS extensively. If for example a student was a junior taking and taking all of her classes in her major, but that particular department wasn’t using Canvas for anything other than syllabus and gradebook hosting, the student would likely have extremely low LMS usage statistics. Therefore any reporting done above the level of an individual course would need to think about normalization of the data and identify reasons that a student might not be using Canvas.

*the screenshots above were pulled from the Canvas Guides

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