The Know Your Class Infographic allows instructors to view the demographic makeup of students within their class sections, such as the age of the students, the proportion of students from urban or rural high schools, the current colleges in which they are enrolled, and the proportion of students that are re-attempting the course. This information may be useful to you in designing your class and lessons; for example, if you have a large proportion of students registered from two colleges you may want to include examples and cases relevant to students in both of these colleges. At the same time, instructors should be wary of making any assumptions about students based on the information provided.

This infographic is accessed within your Blackboard Learn (or PAWS Course Tools) courses. Once you are within your course, go to the Control Panel > Course Tools > Know Your Class. To maintain student anonymity, the infographic will only display relatively proportionally-sized bars without a vertical-axis and it will only display for class sections with 20 or more students enrolled.

New infographics are added in the month prior to the term beginning.

Please Note: If you are experiencing issues with the infographic loading, please try using the Firefox browser.

List of Graphs

Click on each title to expand its section and view suggested strategies for utilizing this information in designing your course and lessons.
This graphic provides you with a sense of the diverse locations from which your students come.
  • Each location may indicate very diverse educational experiences and levels of academic preparedness
  • Students not from Saskatoon may be adjusting to life away from home and community while attending university
  • Your students are not a homogeneous group and will benefit from the following considerations and measures:
    • Assume that not all students will recognize references to local geography, pop culture, or events
    • Certain examples from politics, pop culture, religion, or certain economic perspectives will not resonate with all students
    • Provide diverse examples and if using names within the examples, utilize names that represent diverse cultural backgrounds
    • Communicate expectations and directions very clearly, verbally, in writing, and in more than one location (e.g. syllabus, course notes, emails).

This graphic reveals the age distribution of students in your class.

  • If students are around 18-19 years old, expect that many will more easily recall content and concepts from their high school courses
  • If students are 20+ years old, content and concepts from high school courses may be more difficult for students to remember and draw upon
  • Even if your students are young, do not assume that they are able to use technology effectively for educational purposes
  • It is important to realize that several mental illnesses first present in one’s late teens to early 20s. (e.g. depression, ages 12-19; schizophrenia, ages 16-30, bipolar mean age of 21; suicide, 15-24). This information indicates that we need to alert our students to Student CounsellingStudent Health, and Disability Services for Students, all available for free on campus
  • Using activities teaching strategies (such as Think, Pair, Share) allows students to interact with one another. This contributes to them feeling a sense of belonging at the university and to make help them make positive social and academic connections

This graph reveals how many of your students may possess English as an additional language (EAL), rather than as their first language

  • The term that used to be used to describe non-native English speakers was “English as a Second Language.” We have come to realize that many learners speak more than two languages, and so we now use the term “English as an Additional Language” to acknowledge proficiency in multiple languages
  • When teaching students for whom English is an additional language, it is especially important to define terms, write key terms on the board, in slides, or in notes, avoid colloquial language and terms, to speak at an even pace, and use a microphone if needed and available
  • Write and state the full name of acronyms first, and then pair the name with the acronym. Acronyms often sound like other words (e.g., “BC” may sound like “busy”, or “AD” may sound like “eighty”)
  • Students may benefit from information about the University's Language Centre and Writing Help, provided through Student Learning Services
  • It is very important to provide opportunities for out-of-class contact; email, office hours, telephone
  • Provide multiple forms of contributing to and participating in class. For example, rather than just oral, full-class discussions, allow students to submit written questions/responses, discuss in pairs/small groups, and/or respond using the Top Hat student response system
  • If you provide audio or video resources, try to include captioning or transcripts
  • Provide students with your class notes for review
  • Use Lecture Capture so students can re-watch the class
  • Note that students who speak English as an additional language will vary in their English proficiency. Even students who speak English very well can still benefit from effective communication strategies

This graphic provides you with a sense of how many students in your class are considered “first-in-family” university students.

  • Students who come from families that do not have previous university attendees may be less familiar with the operations, expectations, services, and even the layout of the campus
  • Be sure to inform students of the USSU and other student services, including Student Learning Services (SLS) and Student Health. Encourage students to attend events to get to better know the campus, such as “Smart Start” and Library-organized tours
  • Attempt to de-mystify the university by engaging with students before and after class; be approachable
  • Note that first-in-family students may have more or less than average support from their families to attend university. This will be context dependent
  • Financial and familial responsibilities may feature strongly for many of your students whether 'first-in-family' or not. Many students simply must combine financial and/or family responsibilities with their university study. Rather than suggesting that they reduce these real life commitments, be explicit about the amount of time you recommend students have available for your course and the kind of effort they put in to attendance, note taking, assignments, and exam preparation. This information will help all students including those with multiple responsibilities and commitments
  • First in Family has more strategies for success, such as emphasizing the importance of assignments.

This graphic provides you with a sense of how many students in your class declared their Indigenous or Aboriginal ancestry on PAWS. Indigenous and Aboriginal identity in Canada includes “First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit) [...] under the Indian Act of Canada [...]. Aboriginal peoples of Canada are defined in the Constitution Act, 1982, Section 35 (2) as including the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada” (Statistics Canada, 2015)

  • Regardless of the distribution of this graphic, integrate Indigenous worldviews, perspectives, and ways of knowing into our teaching. This is one possible action of many to take in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action
  • Strive to create a safe environment for Indigenous students, as they are underrepresented in our student population
  • Consult with specialists on campus on how to integrate appropriate strategies, such as narrative inquiry, storytelling, and cooperative learning, into your class
  • If you have a small proportion of self-declared Aboriginal students, do not single them out or ask them to represent “the” Indigenous perspective
  • You may want to consult with Elders or Knowledge Keepers, and invite them into your class. Explore the Experiential Learning Fund for practical, logistical, and possibly financial support
  • Acknowledge that your class is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis by using Council-approved language: “As we gather here today, we acknowledge we are on Treaty Six Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nation and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.”

This graphic provides you with a sense of how many of your students are new for the first time to university and how many are continuing U of S students or transfers from elsewhere.

  • All first-year students are making a transition to university level study that includes understanding new and often unstated student norms, practices, and systems. If you have many new first-time students, then you will want to be especially clear when instructing them on your course expectations, inform them of the importance of intrinsic motivation in their studies, instruct how to properly cite sources in their assignments, and inform them of support resources available through services, such as the libraryStudent Learning Services, and the USSU. The “Smart Start” in September is particularly useful
  • Express extra effort to build community in class through strategies such as cooperative learning, think-pair-shares, or encourage students to create study groups (formal or informal)
  • Instructors vary on how they would like students to communicate with them out of class; provide means of contacting you outside of class time, and set guidelines, if you like, such as “I won’t be responding to emails after 9 p.m.” and/or “address me as Professor ________”
  • "Office hours" and their purpose vary among instructors; explain how students can contact you regarding setting office meetings, and the kinds of discussions you expect students to bring forward in that setting
  • The final exam system is different from regularly scheduled midterm exams and quizzes; explain the level of formality that exists for your assessments and compare that to the setting for finals
  • Frequently “PAWS” and “Blackboard” are referred to interchangeably. Showing students your course page on the screen on the first day and the key areas to be able to navigate as they get started will help them use each appropriately and without confusion
  • Withdrawal from a course requires an administrative action by the student. Highlight for your students at the beginning of your course and near the withdrawal date, that no longer turning up does not mean a withdrawal automatically occurs and what the consequences are for not formally withdrawing
  • New students will be novices at interpreting instructor feedback and grade performance. Consider providing the class tips on how to review and incorporate feedback that they receive and what to do next in terms of developing their skills or understanding
  • Matters of academic integrity, honesty, dishonesty, and plagiarism are particularly complex. Be especially explicit about the rules that apply in your teaching and evaluation

This graphic provides you with a sense of the proportion of students you have from each college or school.

  • If you have students primarily from one college or school, then you can plan examples and case studies that are particularly relevant to that audience
  • If you a large portion of your students from more than one college or school, then provide diverse examples and cases
  • Consider the learning activities and assessments that are common within the colleges or schools from which your students come. If you are requiring students to do something that is uncommon to them, then provide them with extra details and instruction around how to do this task, and the related expectations
  • You have the opportunity to emphasize the connections that exist between the students' differing disciplines
  • If you have students from a college or school that you didn't expect, survey your students or have a discussion regarding their motivation for enrolling in your course. This can better help you meet their goals and motivation for taking the course
  • Be aware that some students may be taking your course as a required course, while others are taking it as an elective, and so each of their motivations may be very different from one another
  • Students from other colleges or schools may be coming in with very different prerequisite knowledge, and so a pre-test at the beginning of the course, or before major content/concept areas is advisable

This graphic provides you with a sense of the average grade students have received so far in their students at the U of S.

  • If you have many students with high averages, encourage them to become a "Peer Mentor" with Student Learning Services
  • Also, students with high averages may be interested in opportunities for summer research positions at the U of S, and other supplemental learning
  • If many students have low averages, encourage them to attend tutorials, office hours, and events/sessions with Student Learning Services
  • With a mix of averages, your students will benefit from working in groups, or using "peer instruction" or "cooperative learning"
  • Recognize that the students' averages coming in to your course may not reflect how they will perform in your discipline or class. Also consider that students' final grades have been normalized or curved in previous classes

This graphic provides you with a sense of how many credit units your students have completed.

  • If many students have 15 or fewer credit units, this suggests that they may be "New, First Time" students. Please, review the suggestions for the "Student Status" graphic
  • If many students have 60+ of credit units, they likely have experiences to draw upon from a wide variety of courses. This means they have diverse knowledge, skills, and likely have experiences with a wider variety of assessment types. You may want to survey your students to get a better sense of their diverse experiences. Involving these students in discussions in class allows them to share experiences and make connections, benefitting the individual student, and the class as a whole
  • Students with 30 credits or more are likely to be more aware of and connected to to campus services and to have more well-established peer groups. Consider this when forming groups in class

This graphic provides you with a sense of how many of your students are part-time and full-time this term.

  • When exploring this graphic, you may also want to review the "Credit Units Completed" graphic to gain a more comprehensive "snapshot" of where students are in their programs
  • Consider the reasons why a student is registered in 12 or fewer credits; they may have to maintain a job, ;or have other significant commitments away from campus, such as familial or community responsibilities
  • Students taking 15+ credits, likely have many midterms exams and assignments. Experiment with offering choice/flexibility around due dates, if possible.
  • Students taking 15+ credits will likely have more difficulty finding opportunities to work on group assignments outside of class time and also more difficulty attending office hours (this also applies to students who are employed or who have familial responsibilities). Offer alternative opportunities for students to connect with your for guidance or assistance
  • Students taking 15+ credits may be under more stress. Remind students of the available support services, such as Student Health and available Student Counselling

This graphic indicates the proportion of students that have been enrolled in the class previously and are enrolled in it again this term.

  • If you have students registered who have previously passed the course, they are likely taking the course to improve their grade, perhaps for admission into another program. These students should be very intrinsically motivated
  • If a number of students are taking the course again, consider ways that the course could be modified. Are there any assignments options that may better engage these students or provide them with a better opportunity to succeed? For example, if the major assignment is normally a written paper, could students represent their learning in a different way? Similarly, if the learning materials are only written, could you provide more audio/visual learning materials? Are there additional ways for students to assess their learning along the way to provide them with earlier feedback?
  • Additionally, if you have a proportion of students that are taking the course again, use this to your advantage by allowing for more peer learning and discussions in class. Leverage their previous experience to your advantage as it is likely that the students that are re-taking the course are familiar with the content, especially from the first half of the term

This graph reveals how many of your students may possess English as an additional language (EAL), rather than as their first language. In addition, it displays how many of your students have taken an English course from the University's Language Centre

  • The term that used to be used to describe non-native English speakers was "English as a Second Language." We have come to realize that many learners speak more than two languages, and so we now use the term "English as an Additional Language" to acknowledge proficiency in multiple languages
  • When teaching students for whom English is an additional language, it is especially important to define terms, write key terms on the board, in slides, or in notes, avoid colloquial language and terms, to speak at an even pace, and use a microphone if needed and available
  • Write and state the full name of acronyms first, and then pair the name with the acronym. Acronyms often sound like other words (e.g., "BC" may sound like "busy", or "AD" may sound like "eighty")
  • Students may benefit from information about the University's Language Centre and Writing Help, provided through Student Learning Services
  • It is very important to provide opportunities for out-of-class contact; email, office hours, telephone
  • Provide multiple forms of contributing to and participating in class. For example, rather than just oral, full-class discussions, allow students to submit written questions/responses, discuss in pairs/small groups, and/or respond using the Top Hat student response system
  • If you provide audio or video resources, try to include captioning or transcripts
  • Provide students with your class notes for review
  • Use Lecture Capture so students can re-watch the class
  • Note that students who speak English as an additional language will vary in their English proficiency. Even students who speak English very well can still benefit from effective communication strategies