The First 168 Hours: Collecting Useful Learner Data During the First Week of Class

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

The first week of class sets the tone for a course. This time also provides an opportunity for instructors to collect data about their learners. This presentation explores introduction videos, discussion activities, google forms, and orientation quizzes as tools to assess prior knowledge, lived experiences, and online learning preparedness. 




Nyasha M. GuramatunhuCooper is an assistant professor of leadership at Kennesaw State University. A native of Zimbabwe, her research explores leadership as a socially, culturally, politically, and historically mediated practice. Other work examines personal narratives of Black Africans in Southern African colonial histories, and the formation, interpretation, and employment of leadership in African social movements.

Extended Abstract

Whether in a face-to-face, hybrid or online format, the first week of a course is a pivotal time that allows instructors to set expectations, present resources, and introduce content to students from various backgrounds and interests. While these activities are crucial for a successful semester for students and professor, the first week of class is especially important in online courses as it provides a rich opportunity for instructors to collect learner data that will impact course design and delivery, content, as well as program assessment and administration. As online instructors, it is important to gain a sense of whom we are teaching, their needs, and the knowledge and experiences they bring to the online classroom. Data collected during this time will help instructors to respond to the needs of the learners and the learning community at large (Stern, 2015).   Additionally, the process supports enhanced instructor-to-learner and learner-to-learner connections (Drouin, 2008).  For example, students and instructors alike may become more aware of shared experiences in and out of the classroom.  Such realizations lead to higher perceptions of community among students, which is a known contributor to online student success (Erman Yukselturk, & Safure Bulut, 2007). In this presentation, we will explore how first week course activities and tools are utilized in leadership studies courses at a public four-year institution, with enrolment of 40 students per online section. Specifically, this presentation focuses on how learner data was collected from two sections of an introductory leadership theory course, and how the data was used to review course design and delivery. The data collected also provided insight for program level conversations among faculty, course coordinators, and program administrators.  Additionally, the process informed considerations regarding how data collected might impact the leadership studies program and collaboration with other disciplines.  For example, high enrollment concentrations among non-major students who registered for the course as an elective may suggest the potential success of a future discipline-related special-topics course or an online learning community between leadership studies and a partner department. Our presentation explores the use of introduction videos, discussion board activities, Google forms, and orientation quizzes as first week tools to collect data such as prior knowledge and learning, personal and professional experiences,  and online learning preparedness. While this data pertains to a specific institution, the presentation presents an opportunity for instructors and program administrators to consider how they might use the aforementioned tools at their own institutions to collect data that meets the needs of their inquiry. Participants will be able to view sample video introductions and instructions, discussion prompts, Google forms and responses, and orientation quizzes.  A discussion on the potential use of these tools at participant institutions will provide an opportunity for participants to solicit feedback from the presenters and colleagues.



Drouin, M. A. (2008). The relationship between students’ perceived sense of community and satisfaction, achievement, and retention in an online course. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 9(3), 267-284.

Erman Yukselturk, & Safure Bulut. (2007). Predictors for Student Success in an Online Course. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 10(2), 71-83. Retrieved from

Stern, A. (2015). Bridge the Gap: Replicating the Interactivity of the Physical Classroom in an Online Environment. History Teacher, 48(3), 483-504.