Assessment of Schoology usage by faculty

An estimated usage of Schoology spring 2018 based on student surveys suggested that on the order of 83% of the national site college faculty were using Schoology in support of their courses. At that time a separate survey of faculty reported that 90% of the faculty at the national site were using Schoology learning management system. The national site faculty survey, being an anonymous self-report, was thought to over-estimate Schoology usage among national campus faculty. Faculty who were not using Schoology might have been less inclined to submit a survey as Schoology usage is mandated at sites connected to the Internet by fiber optic cable.

In December 2018 survey forms were distributed to 37 faculty mailboxes at the national site, a meager six surveys were returned. The sample size was too small to draw any useful conclusions.

A separate unpublished analysis of student logins done in December 2018 by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness indicated that 95% of the students at the national site were logging into and using Schoology. A December 2018 survey of 62 students suggested again that 83% of the sections might be using Schoology. The report on student usage of Schoology found that students strongly favor the use of Schoology in support of their classes. This term, as was seen last spring, one of the aspects of Schoology listed by students as a reason for disliking Schoology was faculty who either do not use Schoology or who do not update their grades in Schoology in a reasonably timely manner. In other words, students liked Schoology strongly and want all faculty to use Schoology.

An analysis of Schoology faculty logins for fall term 2018 yielded an 86% rate of Schoology usage among national site faculty, in good agreement with the rate inferred from student surveys spring and fall 2018. An 86% actual login rate indicates that the estimates based on student surveys were reasonable estimates.
Histogram of the number of logins, values on the x-axis are interval upper limits for the number of logins: 0, 1 - 500, 501 - 1000, 1001 - 2000, 2001 - 3000, 3001 - 5031.

The number of logins by a faculty member will vary both with the nature of their use of Schoology and the nature of the subject being taught. Faculty who are logging in only to enter grades and attendance will have fewer logins than those grading, recording attendance, making and receiving assignments, engaging in discussions, distributing course materials, interacting with class based Schoology Groups, advising advisees, assessing learning outcomes, and giving online tests. In the chart above the faculty with the most logins are known to be utilizing online discussions and apps such as Google Drive Assignments and Cengage's MindTap in addition to grading, attendance, online tests, and assignments.

Aside from six faculty who did not log into Schoology, the number of logins varied from 80 during the term to 5031 during the term.
Inferred/estimated breakdown of feature usage

Based on the number of logins and knowledge of how Schoology is being used by faculty at the national site, roughly half of the faculty are primarily using Schoology for grades and attendance only. About a fifth of the faculty are using Schoology for more than just grade entry and attendance. These faculty are likely making assignments, receiving and marking those assignments, along with handling grades and attendance using Schoology. Another one sixth of the faculty are using multiple Schoology features including apps such as MindTap and Google Drive Assistant. One seventh of the faculty at the national site are not using Schoology.

Faculty comments on Schoology

Although only six faculty returned surveys, their comments are still useful. When asked what they liked about Schoology, faculty responded:
  • simple and easy to use
  • convenience of grade calculation
  • ability of students of keep track of grades and attendance

When asked to comment on what faculty disliked, faculty responded:
  • not being able to send bulk email to all advisees
  • inability to correct certain errors in attendance (for example attendance marked on wrong days)
  • gives instructor less flexibility in grading, student will expect Schoology grade to be exit grade, no room to curve or make exceptions/special circumstances 
  • lacks plagiarism checker, document conversion feature antiquated, needs more plugin integration
  • it miscalculates sometimes
A couple of comments on the dislikes. Mistakenly marking a day can essentially be "corrected" by marking everyone present for that day. Schoology only tallies absences, lates, and excused absences. Schoology does not tally the number of "presents" and thus a "present" is essentially a null value. That said, there is no way to make the green present marks disappear if one has marked the wrong day.

As for grading flexibility, Schoology has a Course override grading option that can be enabled in the Grade Setup. This allows an instructor to override a grade due to special circumstances.

Curving a set of final grades is not directly possible. Grade setup, however, allows the setting of weights by assignment category and includes the capability to drop one or more of the lowest assignments. Between the grade override column option, category weights, and the ability to drop low assignments, the functional intent of a curve can likely be achieved without resorting to a specific distribution. Some course outlines include language that specifically forbid curving grades according to a distribution curve.


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