How to set up assignments to assist in identifying at-risk students


Written by Daniel Barry 

Students’ early online activity and assessment grades produce valuable data points that help us to predict which students are at risk of failing and potentially attriting from the University.  In order to identify students that may be at risk and undertake appropriate intervention it’s important for courses to have a coherent assessment framework that allows the generation of suitable data. 

Primarily they need to have the following;

  • All assignments to be published prior to the start of the teaching period,
  • Points possible values entered for each assignment,
  • Due dates (don’t forget to update these in assignments that have been copied from a previous teaching period),
  • At least one assessment that allows feedback to students before census, and
  • Weightings for published assignments that add up to 100%.

Weightings obviously allow us to understand the extent to which each assignment contributes to the final mark and give us a clear view of a student’s trajectory during teaching.  Encouragingly, it appears that we’re beginning to use this facility more effectively at the University of Adelaide.


Semester 1, 2020

Semester 2, 2020



(day three of the semester)


(five days prior to semester)

Courses with Published Assignments




224 (34.8%)

309 (47.0%)


234 (36.3%)

239 (36.3%)


186 (28.9%)

110 (16.7%)


Almost two thirds of courses (63.7%) were using assignment weightings at the point the data snapshots were taken early in the semester.  While the same percentage of courses are still not using this functionality (36.3%), almost half (47%) are using it correctly (published assignment weightings add up to 100%) which is an increase of over 12% since Semester 1.

Courses where the weightings add up to something other than zero or 100 (‘Others’) may just need to publish that last assignment or final exam to reach 100% weighting.  Those not yet using this capability are encouraged to refer to the Canvas site and/or make contact with a Learning Designer or MyUni Support.

Related articles 
How to avoid assessment clashes 
Preparing for Semester 2 

Tagged in Learning Enhancement & Innovation, learning analytics