Best practices: Track student behaviors using database
The Database activity allows for collaborative development of a collection of data within a course. It allows the teacher and/or participants to build display and search a bank of recorded entries about any conceivable topic.
In this blog post we’ll explore using this tool to track and display student behavior referrals in a way that is searchable and accessible to all staff within a school. In this example staff would enter the referral into a database set up within a shared course named “Guidance Resources and Referrals”. This use case allows staff to monitor student referrals over the scope of multiple classes for a broader and more detailed understanding of student behaviors.
Understanding the database activity
A database consists of fields and templates. In order for users to be able to add information into the database you must create an entry form for new entries. The form can consist of one or many fields defining the type of data the database will collect and store: text dates files URLs etc. By combining several fields with appropriate names and types you should be able to capture all the relevant information about the items in your database.
Templates control the visual layout of information when listing viewing or editing database entries. The format and structure of these entries can be almost unlimited.
To create a database you'll need to first plan out the template forms and use. Then you’ll add the activity create the fields and define the templates. Once complete you will be ready to start adding entries.
Specific database settings you’ll need to consider for our purposes today include:
- Comments: This setting enables commenting on entries. The comments field appears on the single view template when this is enabled.
- Require approval: Enable to require each entry to be approved by someone with the appropriate role before other users can view it.
To build a database designed for this purpose:
1. Go to the area of the course you want to add the activity.
2. Add the activity Database activity
3. Set the General settings as follows:
a. Name: “Behavior Referrals”
b. Description: “This Behavior Referral system is designed to report and track incidence of behavior allowing staff to monitor student referrals over the scope of multiple classes for a broader and more detailed understanding of student behaviors. Please fill out the referral in its entirety according to the guidelines outlined in your teacher handbook.”
c. Display description on course page: “No”
4. Set Entries settings as follows:
a. Approval required: Set as desired. (See above for description.)
b. Allow comments on entries: Set as desired. (See above for description.)
c. Entries required for completion “None”
d. Entries required before viewing: “None”
e. Maximum number of entries: “None”
5. Set Availability settings as follows:
a. Available from/Available to: Set if creating a separate database for each academic year.
b. Read only from/Read only to: Do not set
6. Set the Grade category as desired given the categories created for this course or leave as “Uncategorized”.
7. No Outcomes will be associated with this activity so you can leave this area untouched.
8. Since you will not enable Ratings for this activity set Aggregation type to “No ratings”. The rest of the settings in this area can be left untouched.
9. Set Common module settings as desired based on how you intend to use the activity within your organization.
10. Restrict access settings can be set as desired as well. Consider who will be accessing this activity and how they will be using it.
11. Set Completion tracking to “Do not indicate activity completion”.
12. Click Save and Display.
13. Click the Fields tab and create as follows:
a. Select “Text” from the Create a new field drop-down menu.
b. Enter “Student Name” in the Field name text box.
c. Do not check Allow Autolink.
d. Click the Add button.
e. Select “Date” from the Create a new field drop-down menu.
f. Enter “Report Date” in the Field name text box.
g. Click the Add button.
h. Select “Menu (Multi-select)” from the Create a new field drop-down menu.
i. Enter “Conduct Category” in the Field name text box.
j. Enter the category options in the Options (one per line) text box. (Attendance Behavior Positive Action etc.)
k. Click the Add button.
l. Select “Textarea” from the Create a new field drop-down menu.
m. Enter “Conduct Details” in the Field name text box.
n. Set text box width height and maximum embedded file size as desired.
o. Click the Add button.
p. Select “Menu (Multi-select)” from the Create a new field drop-down menu.
q. Enter “Assigned Action” in the Field name text box.
r. Enter the action options in the Options (one per line) text box. (Detention ICU award nomination etc.)
s. Click the Add button.
t. Select “Textarea” from the Create a new field drop-down menu.
u. Enter “Action Details” in the Field name text box.
v. Set text box width height and maximum embedded file size as desired.
w. Click the Add button.
14. Click the Templates tab and set as follows:
a. With Single template selected adjust the order of the fields you just created if desired.
b. Click Save Template when finished.
15. Click the Add Entry tab to review the format.
In looking to maximize the possible benefits and minimize the potential pitfalls of this activity consider these best practices for effective implementation.
- Think Positive: Recognize that positive behaviors are worth noting as well. Consider including behaviors such as Leadership Mentoring and Tutoring as well.
- Make it Familiar: Because database fields are editable the activity could be designed to mimic existing forms. This will ease the change to the online system.
Considering these best practices the tool features and the activity explored in this post can you think of some other novel or unconventional uses of the database activity?
For a more in depth look at database and other advanced course building tools consider enrolling in Moodle™/Joule Course Building for Advanced users.