The Great Wall of student engagement: Using Quizzes and New Analytics to inform community design

photo of Helen Atkinson

Helen Atkinson – Careers Consultant

Careers Service

What did you do?

I used Canvas New Analytics and Quizzes to monitor how students were engaging with non-credit bearing careers initiatives, specifically the following two projects:

China Career Gateway: An annual extracurricular career development programme designed to help Chinese students at Newcastle University prepare for their graduate career in the UK and/or China. Since 2020/21, China Career Gateway has been delivered as a predominantly asynchronous course via Canvas.

SNES Skills & Employability Canvas community: A new Canvas community providing supplementary discipline-specific careers education, information and guidance to students in the School of Natural & Environmental Sciences.

Who is involved?

Helen Atkinson, Careers Consultant, Newcastle University Careers Service. I have also worked with the following colleagues from the School of Natural & Environmental Sciences to launch the SNES Skills & Employability Canvas community:

  • Lee Higham, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry and School of Natural & Environmental Sciences Academic Lead for Employability & Enterprise.
  • Julia Robinson, SAgE Faculty Liaison Librarian
  • Abby French, Student Engagement Facilitator, SAgE Faculty

How did you do it?

For China Career Gateway, I used the Quizzes function in Canvas to create a survey for students to complete at the start of the programme. This encourages students to reflect on their levels of career readiness and how confident they feel about preparing for different stages of the recruitment process. At the end of the programme students repeat the survey, to help them reflect on their progress and distance travelled.

Screenshot of pre & post survey results. Barchart showing Near unanimous agreement in understanding job market for UK and chinese markets and where to search after programme

China Career Gateway survey results – pre (left), and post (right) programme.

As the SNES Skills & Employability Canvas community was a new initiative for 2021/22 and non-credit bearing, we weren’t sure how students would engage with content. I used the New Analytics tool to monitor students’ weekly online activity to understand which elements of the Canvas community students were engaging with more frequently.

line chart showing average page views, spiking at 10 for mid september, remaining around 3-4, and then dropping off around mid November

Chart outlining student interactions in the SNES skills & employability Canvas community

Screenshot of page numbers. 688 students viewed of 1,789, Total page views 5,671.

Tabling outlining student interactions in the SNES Skills & Employability Canvas Community and resources

Why did you do it?

We put a lot of effort into developing asynchronous career-related content in Canvas and are keen to ensure that students are benefiting from this- we don’t want this to be wasted effort after all!

Using survey functionality as part of China Career Gateway facilitates the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative feedback. Using the Survey Statistics tool I can now easily compare pre and post programme results directly in Canvas- it used to be a much more manual process! For example, in 2020/21, 94% of post-programme respondents told us they felt confident knowing where to search for graduate roles in the UK and China, compared with only 20% of pre-programme respondents. This has helped me assess programme impact and understand where to focus programme enhancements in future. It has also had the benefit of providing me with some useful statistics to include in future China Career Gateway marketing materials.

Using New Analytics to monitor student engagement in our SNES Skills & Employability Canvas community has been instrumental in understanding which features of the community students are engaging with more frequently. For instance, we’ve noticed that our use of Announcements to promote SNES-relevant vacancies and events appear to be particularly popular with students. This will provide us with useful pointers when we come to review and update the community in 2022.

Student Voice

I made use of the Quizzes function in Canvas to gather student feedback:

“Great respect and appreciation for the work of the team of China Career Gateway programme! After completing the 5-week course, I have a general understanding of job hunting in China and the UK, and I am more confident and know what challenges I will face on the road of job hunting.”

– China Career Gateway 2021/22 participant

“As a final year undergraduate, it’s good to see some things explicitly stated that I may not have been aware of previously (e.g. graduate application deadlines being a year in advance and other alternatives to graduate schemes). Learning more about the RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry) is really encouraging and I feel that I would be more confident in attending local RSC events after having watched the video in that section. It is good to see the wealth of links and resources all in one place, particularly more focused/specific resources just for SNES students.”

Stage 3 Chemistry student

Does it work?

We are confident that Canvas communities are providing students with more bespoke resources to aid their career development and this promotes accessibility and inclusion by enabling students to access resources and work through materials at a time which suits them.

Monitoring activity via the New Analytics tool demonstrates that students are using the communities- for example we saw that 37% of SNES students engaged with the Skills & Employability community during Induction Week 2021 alone. While we know students are using the community, feedback from SNES students has been limited, so we are also working with Staff-Student-Committee representatives to gather further feedback.

I have also experienced some limitations using the Canvas New Analytics function. I currently monitor students’ weekly online activity, however would benefit from understanding cumulative data, e.g. the total percentage of students who have accessed community content since the start of the academic year.

Overall, the Quizzes and New Analytics functions have increased my confidence in using Canvas to support and enhance students’ learning experiences, tailor provision, monitor engagement and gather feedback.


This approach develops the following attributes:

  • Confident
  • Curious
  • Digitally capable
  • Engaged
  • Future focused

Find out more about the Graduate Framework

See also

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