We have entered another new year and are standing at the brink of another new spring semester! Perhaps there is, hidden amidst our resolutions for 2024, a goal or two pertaining to teaching and learning at Connecticut College. Ramping up your Moodle page might even be on this list of excellent aspirations. It is in this spirit that we present six high impact Moodle practices that have been informed by survey responses from Connecticut College students.
What We Did:
In the Spring of 2023, Research Support & Instructional Technology conducted a survey of students about their Moodle experience. We asked students to reflect on how they utilized different Moodle tools, how often they engaged in different tasks, and what features of Moodle enhanced or hindered their learning. We received approximately 160 responses over the course of three weeks.
What We Found:
Moodle impacts First Years
39% of respondents identified as first-year students, suggesting to us that the Moodle experience is particularly impactful to this group of learners. Therefore, we encourage instructors to focus on adopting practices that are most likely to affect underclass students.
Students do different tasks on a daily, weekly, and semesterly basis
We provided students with a list of tasks that are most commonly done in a Moodle class site and asked them to indicate how frequently they engage in these tasks. We found that, in general:
- Daily tasks include checking schedules and deadlines (50%) and viewing course materials (62%).
- Weekly tasks include reading announcements (42%), participating in discussions (43%), and uploading assignments (48%).
- Monthly tasks include checking the syllabus (37%), watching videos (33%), and checking grades (35%).
- Semesterly tasks include taking quizzes (31%).
Moodle is easy for students to use
We asked students to rate nine different Moodle tasks on ease of use using a five-point scale ranging from “Very Easy” to “Very Difficult”. At least 70% of students responded “Very Easy” or “Easy” to each of these tasks. The “most difficult” task for students was “Grades” (18%).
Structure matters to students
We provided students with a field for open-ended responses and asked them to reflect on courses that used Moodle effectively and courses that did not. Their responses highlighted the importance of structural and organizational choices that instructors make in their Moodle sites. Of the 60 responses we received detailing effective Moodle strategies, 75% referenced structure as a reason for Moodle effectiveness, and more than half of those responses specifically identified a chronological structure as the most effective. Similarly, of the 53 responses we received that described ineffective Moodle practices, half cited a lack of structure as a hindrance to learning.
“Every week had its own folder, expectations were clearly stated in the description for each week, submissions for assignments were in proper folders, and you could look ahead as you wished to.”
“Organization is important in Moodle.”
“I also think there should be a more streamlined way all professors set up their Moodle page…if every Moodle page was the same rough layout, I think it would make it infinitely easier to navigate especially at the beginning of the semester.”
“…have gotten lost, can’t find the place to turn in assignments and have missed chances to improve my grade because of it.”
Students Monitor the Moodle Gradebook
Across all of the open-ended responses, grades was mentioned specifically 18 times, an amount significantly higher than any other individual topic in the open-ended response section aside from organization. Interestingly, an equal number of these responses viewed grading in Moodle as a positive feature and a negative feature. This suggests to us that grading is an important component of the Moodle experience for students, but that it can enhance learning just as easily as it can cause frustration.