Skip to main content
Blackboard Help

Best Practice: Analyze Course Effectiveness

Analyze and adjust your course to increase student success.

Low participation in discussion activities might lead you to investigate your instructions and expectations. Is access to discussions in the correct spot in your course? Do you respond soon enough? Do students respond to others? After you make improvements, check participation levels again to confirm that the changes had a positive impact.

Blackboard Learn provides a collection of tools and reports to track your student activity and gain insight into the effectiveness of your course:

Item analysis on tests

Item analysis provides statistics about overall test performance and individual questions. This data identifies questions that might be poor discriminators of student performance. Use this information to improve questions for future test administrations or to adjust credit on current attempts.

More on item analysis


After the item analysis, you notice that the majority of students answer one question incorrectly. Why the low success rate?

  • Is the wording of the question confusing?
  • Are the answer options unclear?
  • Were students given the right content to learn to successfully answer this question?
  • Was the content to learn easily accessible and clear?

Based on what you discover, you can improve the test question so that it truly assesses what students know or don't know.

Course reports

Course reports include details about which students access your course and when.

Course Activity Overview report

The Course Activity Overview report displays overall activity within a single course, sorted by student and date. The data includes the total and average time spent per user and each user's total activity in the course. Use this information to investigate and improve your content and activities.

Example 1:

Student activity is high in the afternoons on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So, make yourself present in the course when they're most likely there. Use that time to engage with your students, post announcements, host office hours, and participate in group discussions.

Example 2:

Students tend to spend a long time on one page and significantly less on others. One student in particular hasn't accessed any pages. Time spent on pages could indicate special interest in the topic or difficulty understanding it. Based on the recognizable patterns that you see, investigate the accessibility and effectiveness of your course, content, and activities.

Course Coverage report

The Course Coverage report displays data on course items that are aligned to goals. Use this report to discover which goals don't have instructional material associated with them. Fill in these instructional gaps with rich content.


After you run the report, select the linked number in the Not Covered column to view goals that don't have course material associated with them.

After you create course material that helps students meet those goals, access the content item's menu to add alignments to the goal. Your changes show in the report when you run it again.

Learn Analytics reports

Learn Analytics reports are available If your institution has access to Blackboard Learn Analytics:

  • Student At a Glance: Gather detailed information about how a student performs compared to other students in the same course or with the same major.
  • Learn Course At a Glance: Analyze the course design. How does the course compare to other course sections in the same department or with the same course number? How do students use the course?
  • Activity and Grade Scatter Plot: Analyze how different student activity types relate to the grades recorded in the Grade Center.
  • Activity Matrix: Analyze activity and grade patterns in a course to find students with different usage and performance profiles.
  • Course Activity Trend: Understand various course measures over time, broken down by instruction method. Different instruction methods have different expectations regarding instructor course design and student participation.

End-of-course evaluations

End-of-course surveys are a great opportunity to hear how your students feel about their learning experience in your course.

Course surveys

Summative evaluations give your students time to reflect on how effectively your course met their needs. How can you improve content? Which concepts did they find challenging? Make course evaluations general enough so that students will give you honest feedback. Not only is this a great model for lifelong learning, this information can lead to improved content and interactions for your students.

More on creating surveys


You can use a rating system and ask your students these questions:

  • Did you find the material engaging?
  • Did the activities prepare you for success?

Include open-ended questions:

  • What are your overall thoughts about the course?
  • What was the most valuable portion of the course?
  • What was the most distracting or unneeded portion?

Enterprise surveys

Another option for summative evaluation that might be available to you is an enterprise survey. Your institution needs to create a special user account for you.

Enterprise surveys can measure satisfaction levels, community engagement, and other attitudes that impact institutional effectiveness. Surveys provide indirect measurements of student learning. They rely on self-reported data and implied success. Enterprise surveys collect data anonymously. Individuals can't be identified by their responses.