New study reveals how students respond to alerts and notifications

A new study has found that students have a strong preference to notifications that compare them to peers in their course instead of receiving notifications only about their own activity.

A new study conducted by Blackboard data scientists John Whitmer, Daniel Nasiatka and Timothy Harfield, found that students perform better when they receive notifications on how they are performing in a course and alerting them in advance if they are at risk of not passing a course. 

The study analyzed data from student activity in the Ultra experience of Blackboard Learn, a new feature in the LMS that has the ability to automate notifications to students on the basis of their performance and activity, with 22,227 notifications sent to 3,679 students in 141 courses in Spring 2017.

In prior research conducted in this area, a common concern was whether all students would benefit from the same message or whether these features should be personalized for each student. 

The new Ultra experience of Blackboard Learn created a feature that sends students and faculty, notifications about individual trends in performance and performance relative to peers. Surprisingly, students showed a strong preference to notifications that compared them to peers in their course (i.e, you are in the top 10% of the class, or the bottom 5%) compared to notifications about their own activity (i.e., your grades improved, or your grades have fallen).

Normally, students don't have access to these type of notifications, making this new feature an interesting way to motivate students. "Notifying students when they are doing well relative to others serves as an important reward. It makes us feel good when we do well, and knowing that we are doing well by objective standards encourages us to continue to do well," says John Whitmer, one of the researchers. 

These alerts are built into the LMS experience, embedded directly within the course. Students can see information about their courses and when clicking a notification, the student receives more detailed information as well as a suggested action. 

The new Ultra experience of Blackboard Learn

The new Ultra experience of Blackboard Learn

For more information, visit the full research report here: http://www.blackboard.com/resources/pdf/report_ultratriggers.pdf