Writing progress messages

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Kieran Mathieson
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Skilling helps instructors identify students who are falling behind, and send them messages. Here's a progress report. The completion score is based on exercises submitted.

Progress report

Click on Send message, and you can choose a preset message to send, or write a custom message:

Message

What should the message say? Matt Reed wrote a blog post about that. He says:

 Instead of sounding an alarm, which presumes that the student doesn’t know something is wrong -- they almost always do -- [the message] should be more like tossing a life preserver.

The message should sound an alarm, since not all students realize the consequences of falling behind in an intensive skills course. It should do more, however. The message should be written...

[based] on the assumption that most students who are struggling would rather be doing well; they are more often overwhelmed than indifferent.

Messages should be campus-specific, including links to disability services, veterans support, tutoring centers, etc. They should also be course-specific, listing particular resources relevant to the course.

Skilling comes with generic help messages, as shown above. You should change them, to match your course environment.

Something else came to mind when reading Dr Reed's post. The message is sent to a particular student, and students aren't all the same. Working parents face different challenges from international students. Progress messages could reflect those differences.

How could Skilling help? First, the message page could show instructors information about the student, so they can customize the message. Disability status, veteran status... anything the matters. There could be course-specific data, like the student's grade in a prerequisite course.

Second, Skilling could advise instructors on how to use student information when creating messages. The advice should be campus- and course-specific. For example, students with low grades in a prerequisite math course might be directed to a specific tutor.

Look for two new features on the message page:

  • Student data
  • Advice on how to use that data

There isn't a timeline for this.

Suggestions? Please comment.