ITS uses Canvas data to improve Undergraduate Nursing program’s clinical evaluations

By | April 27, 2018
nursing students studying

(Lauren Stuart, Undergraduate Admissions)

ITS Teaching & Learning data concierge Jeff Ziegler recently completed a project for the School of Nursing’s Undergraduate Nursing program that has greatly improved their student evaluation process.

Working with clinical instructor Diane Accurso and student advisors Rachel Patterson and Chad Gorski, Ziegler designed and implemented a custom solution for their Professional Nursing Education (PNE) clinical course that uses data extracted from the university’s Canvas learning management system to capture the final evaluations entered by each class’s instructors in Canvas, and provides it in electronic format to the advising team. This data is critical because it not only represents the final pass/fail clinical evaluation for students in the program, but it is also used for grading audits and disciplinary actions.

A time-consuming, cumbersome process

The previous process for collecting final evaluations was a somewhat cumbersome, paper-based workflow that required each PNE instructor to enter their students’ final evaluations into paper forms and drop them off at the advising office. According to Gorski, “At the end of each term, paperwork for approximately 700 PNE students from more than 140 PNE courses was stacked on a table in our office where they would sit until all evaluations had been received. Then the advising team would sit down together and begin sorting and filing them, a process which took about three weeks.”

We now no longer have to print, collate, or scan any of the information—it’s all electronic with easy access in Canvas.

Diane Accurso

Over several months Ziegler met with Accurso and the PNE advising team to understand and analyze the process they had in place. The result was a new process that takes only 20 minutes from start to finish. Now at the end of each term, PNE files a data request ticket for Ziegler in ServiceLink. Using an SQL statement that he wrote, Ziegler extracts the raw data from the Canvas data warehouse into a text file, then runs a script that reads the text file and sorts the evaluation data for each student into separate folders labeled with the PNE course names. That directory of folders is then uploaded into a U-M Box folder shared with the PNE advisors. The advisors can download and review the individual folders for each course and move the evaluation data contained there into another system where it is available to users authorized to access that data.

From four weeks to two days

Benefits realized in this new method of managing the collection and distribution of final evaluations include:

  • reduced workload and processing time for advisors and instructors,
  • elimination of manual work that could result in critical human error,
  • and the ability to quickly and easily share evaluations with stakeholders (paper evaluations were never allowed to leave the advising office, necessitating an in-person visit to view).

Additionally, the student final evaluations are immediately available and usable—no more combing through stacks of paper to find requested data.

nursing students in lecture hall

(Lauren Stuart, Undergraduate Admissions)

Says Accurso, “The academic advisers had to spend many hours assembling and storing the data. We now no longer have to print, collate, or scan any of the information—it’s all electronic with easy access in Canvas, and we have Jeff to thank for that. He really understood our dilemma and provided us with a great end product. For those of us who participated on this project, we all look forward to other opportunities to work with Jeff again.” Adds PNE advisor Patterson, “As one of the advisors who has greatly benefited from Jeff’s work, I can honestly say the system Jeff has created has taken a three- to four-week task and whittled it down to a two-day task—and this was our first time using the system. Now that we know what we’re doing, I think we can even shave time off of the two days. This really is fantastic!”