Case study: Supporting Year Abroad students using online tutorials and quizzes in Blackboard


International Office, University of Bristol



One of the roles of the International Office is to prepare and support students who are going on a year abroad. In past years students had to attend a mandatory pre-departure meeting every March to talk them through specific aspects of their year abroad such as Health & Safety and Insurance. However, students generally did not find these sessions engaging, which meant that often they then had to contact the office at a later date with questions which had already been covered in the session.


  1. To increase student engagement with important year abroad information, providing access at a time and in a manner more convenient to them.
  2. By increasing student engagement, to reduce unnecessary enquiries to the office on subjects which students should already know
  3. To provide students with a resource which they can refer to at any time

What was done

After exploring possible approaches with a number of external companies, one, Cimex, was chosen to produce some online learning resources covering the material which had previously been presented in the face-to-face session. These resources were developed in the form of interactive “SCORM packages”. An example, the first of 3 modules is shown below.  The International Office worked with the Digital Education Office to test these resources in Blackboard. In order to have confirmation that students had engaged with and understood the materials, short supplementary Blackboard quizzes were developed.  These had the advantage that results could be monitored and analysed.  The online resources, quizzes and other relevant information were then put together in a Blackboard space which was launched as a one-stop shop for students going on a year abroad.


What worked well

A high percentage of students completed the quiz, with the average score comfortably above the required level. So far the feedback from students has been positive. They have said they like having the information online as it has allowed them to complete it in their own time, and to dip in and out of the resources and the quiz.  It has been easy for staff to check students’ results to make sure they have completed the quiz and to see how many attempts it took them. This has helped staff to be able to identify at an early stage students who may be likely to have issues later on. It is also useful for staff to be able to refer students to the resources in Blackboard in answer to common questions.

Problems and/or issues

There were a small number of students who experienced minor technical issues, for example with browser settings, and uncertainty on how to re-take quizzes. Most issues were able to be resolved fairly easily.

Future plans

The new approach will continue to be used, with some tweaks and enhancements. For example, staff will be analysing data on question responses and re-working some of the quiz questions to make them as relevant as possible. Staff would also like to use short screencast videos to help orientate students in the Blackboard space, and to address some of the technical or other issues experienced this year.