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Course creation and Settings: Keeping track of your students with the completion progress block

The completion progress block provides a time management tool for you and your students. For students, it allows them to see what progress they are making in their module, which activities they have completed, which are outstanding and which have they missed. For teachers, it allows you to get a quick overview of how students are engaging with the activities and resources in your course area and identify who might be falling behind…or forging ahead!

Note: The completion progress block is an updated version of the progress bar block. If you have an old progress bar block in your module area, you should delete it and replace it with the completion progress block.

How the progress bar looks to teachers

How the completion progress block looks to teachers

The progress bar is a block which can be added to your QMplus course area in the usual way. Once added, it will appear in the blocks area on the right of your module content. As shown here.

You won’t see anything of interest until you click on the Overview of students button which will take you to the student overview report page.

Page showing overall student progress on the module

This view allows you to see at a glance how your students are progressing through the various activities in your course. The coloured squares represent activities in the QMplus course area and they show the status of those activities for each of the students:

  • Red – indicates an activity that has not been completed and is overdue
  • Green – indicates an activity that has been completed
  • Blue – indicates an activity that has not been completed but is not due yet
Tip: If you have a large number of students on your course it’s a good idea to set them up in groups and then you can filter this view according to group.

Detail on student progress overview report

Hovering your mouse over one of the squares gives details of the underlying activity, in this case it’s an assignment that was due on 24th August, and clicking on the square will take you directly to the activity itself.

How the progress bar looks to students

Completion progress bar student view
Viewing activity details on the completion progress block

The screenshots above show how students see the progress bar. It shows their progress through the activities in the QMplus course area:

  1. Red – shows an activity that they have not completed and is overdue
  2. Green – shows an activity they have completed
  3. Blue – shows an activity that they haven’t completed but isn’t due yet

Hovering over a square will provide details of the underlying activity, in this case it’s a glossary activity that was supposed to be completed by the 30th of August and it is now overdue. Clicking on the square will take them directly to the activity itself without them having to find it on the module page.

This means that students can quickly see where they are in a module, which activities they have completed, which are still outstanding and gives an easy way to navigate directly to the activities themselves.

Note: Students can only see their own progress, they cannot see the progress of other students enrolled on the course area. Only teachers and administrators can see the full student progress overview page.

How to set up a completion progress block

The completion progress block relies on a feature in QMplus called activity completion. For every activity in QMplus that you wish to track with the completion progress block, you will first have to set the activity completion settings on that activity. You can then link that activity to the completion progress bar.

To add a completion progress block to your course area, turning editing on and select Completion Progress from the add block menu. If you are unsure of how to add a block in QMplus, see our guide on Customising your course page with blocks.

A completion progress block with no activities defined If your block looks like this once you’ve added it, it means that you haven’t set up activity completion on any activities in your module area. You will have to do this before you can fully configure the completion progress block but you can continue with some settings without having set up the activities first.

Configuring the completion progress block

Once you have added the block, you will need to configure it. Click on the cog icon in the block title bar and select Configure completion progress block.

You will now be on the completion progress block configuration page.

Completion progress block settings

  1. Order bar by – this setting controls how the activities appear in the progress bar from left to right. The most common way to display them is in chronological order by ‘expected completed on’ date. You can also display the activities in the order they appear in your module area. This could be useful if it is not important when students complete the activity but you’d still like to be able to monitor progress. When using this setting, there will not be any red blocks in the progress bar as nothing will be overdue. Blocks will only be green (done) or blue (not done).
  2. How to present long bars – this setting controls how the bar looks if there are a lot of items in it. If you do have a lot of items it might be worth considering:
    • Whether they are all really necessary and useful!
    • Having more than one completion progress block. You can group related activities together and display them in their own completion progress block.
  3. Completion progress bar with iconsUse icons in bar – if set to yes, ticks and crosses will be added to the progress bar to indicate whether they have been completed or not. This is useful for accessibility purposes for those users who cannot rely on colour alone for information.
  4. Completion progress block with percentage visibleShow percentage to students – controls whether the completion percentage is shown to students or not. In this case the student has completed 1 out of 4 activities and therefore has a completion percentage of 25%. N.B. Be careful with progress percentages if you have any hidden activities. Hidden activities will not appear in the student’s progress bar until they are made visible.
  5. Visible only to group – this setting is only relevant if you have groups set up in your course area and you only want the completion progress block to be visible to a particular group.
  6. Alternate title – if left empty, the text Completion Progress will appear on the block. You can change this to be whatever you like. It is possible to have multiple progress bar blocks in a course area which can be monitoring different activities. e.g. you may have a block which only monitors assignments. In this case, it makes sense to provide a meaningful name for the block.
  7. Selecting activities for the completion progress blockThis is the section where you define the activities that you wish to track with the completion progress bar. By default the block will track all activities in your module area which have activity completion set on them. If you only wish to track some of these activities, select Selected activities from the Activities included drop-down menu and then select the activities you want in the Select activities list box by using Cmd-Click. If you have not yet set up activity completion on your activities, you will see a message here stating this. You will have to set these up and then return to the completion progress configuration to link these activities to the block.

Tips for using the progress bar

Adding to the progress bar as you go

You do not have to have all your resources and activities in place before you create your progress bar, they can be added as you go. However, consider what this is like from a student perspective. They will see a continuously growing progress bar!

Be careful with hidden activities

Hidden activities do not appear in the student view of a progress bar.

You can use multiple progress bars

You can have more than one progress bar in a course area so you don’t necessarily have to squeeze everything into one. You could have one progress bar monitoring course work and another monitoring project related work.

Don’t go mad with activity completion!

It is easy to start setting activity completion on everything, from ‘viewing’ files to submitting assignments. Think about what is most useful to track, especially from the perspective of your students. It is possible for you to keep an eye on what students are doing without using activity completion by using the various logs and activity reports that are available in all QMplus module areas.

Next steps

Did this answer your query? If not, you can raise a ticket on the online Helpdesk or email: its-helpdesk@qmul.ac.uk . Alternatively you can also request a particular guide or highlight an error in this guide using our guides request tracker.

Produced by the the E-Learning Unit at Queen Mary University of London.
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