Student Success

The success of our students is our priority. The first step towards enhancing student success at the University of Pretoria is to provide quality online teaching and online support to students (see the Students success initiatives coordinated by the Department for Education Innovation includes the following:

Advising: Faculty Student Advisors (FSAs)

  Faculty Student Advisors (FSAs) use data from the UP Readiness Survey, clickUP, PeopleSoft, and Blackboard Predict (AI system) to identify students who are at risk of failing and to arrange one-to-one sessions with these students. The FSAs use the online Learner Case Management System to capture their interactions with students electronically. For more information go to the FSA website or contact: Dr Hestie Byles (Manager: Academic Advising).


Peer Advisors

  Peer Advisors assist students with basic advising questions and serve as a resource to connect students with the Faculty Student Advisors (FSAs) and/or with general campus resources. 

The orientation of first-year students 

The Academic Orientation Programme consist of the following (for more information, click here):
  • Pre-orientation online module (using phones)
  • Academic Orientation Week: 10 to 13 March 2021
  • UPO module: eight-week online extended orientation programme which includes FSA workshops on academic skills.
Tutoring (Download the Flyer)  

To ensure that the 2021 tutors are trained and know how to tutor face-to-face and online they have to complete the following self-enrol online course:

The course takes about 4 hours to complete. Upon successful completion of the online course, tutors receive a letter of participation.

Student clickUP Training


Students work through the clickUP Online Self-Paced Student Orientation course at their own time and pace. The document entitled clickUP login and self-orientation course contains more information on logging into clickUP, navigating in clickUP and how to access the course.

There are built in exercises in the course to let students click on the correct places to simulate uploading of Turnitin assignments, for example. The aim of the Self-Paced Student Orientation course is also for students to take responsibility for familiarizing themselves with clickUP, while staying safe.

Students can also work through the resources available on the clickUP Student Help Site. Some of the resources on this page include

Student Feedback on Teaching Survey (SFTS)


The University of Pretoria is committed to the improvement of teaching and learning through dedicated support to lecturers and students. Students particularly are important participants in the improvement of the teaching practices of lecturers, and as such, your feedback on the SFTS will be of value to the lecturer. EvaluationKIT enables students to provide feedback on the SFTS through a single sign-on in clickUP; anywhere and from any device, including phones. Contact: Hlengiwe Sehlapelo.

High Impact Modules: HIMs project

  The HIMs project is an initiative of the Tshebi Committee to improve the module success rate of a selected number of modules on the High Impact Modules (HIMs) list. The HIMs project focuses on modules with a pass rate of below 75% and a student enrolment of more than 500. The purpose of the project is to provide a holistic evaluation of the modules with targeted interventions to increase the module success rate. Contact Dr Juan-Claude Lemmens (Head: HERI). 
OER Grants   One of the most important and basic requirements for student success is to ensure that all students have access to essential course materials. It is therefore essential to promote the use of free Open educational resources (OER). We want to invite all UP lecturers to apply for the OER Grants 2021. We have thirty grants available for UP lecturers, and each grant is worth a maximum of R10 000. To apply, lecturers are required to access the necessary information here:


To build a more inclusive environment, broaden student access to learning material and support students, the University is implementing the following:

  • Blackboard Ally (2021)—enhancing digital content for access and learning: Blackboard Ally helps institutions to build a more inclusive learning environment and to improve the student experience by helping students take control of course content with usability, accessibility and quality in mind. 
  • Blackboard Assist (2021): Blackboard Assist is a central hub for online and on-campus resources to drive success.
  • UP Mobile App Orientation Persona: We have collaborated with the orientation team, ITS, and the UP Mobile App developer EiffelCorp to add a new persona to the UP Mobile App to facilitate providing targeted support to new first-year students.
  • Learner Case Management System: The Faculty Student Advisers (FSAs) use the online Learner Case Management System to capture their interactions with students electronically.

Student success data and student support

All the data from the various electronic platforms flow into one central system via the LMS, Blackboard, except for the Learner Case Management System. It is important to align the data strategy with the digital strategy. The integration of a digital teaching, learning and student success software package with the LMS means not just connecting applications; it also requires careful planning of the flow of learning and student success data. The University uses Pyramid Analytics software to collect all the data and to develop user-friendly student success dashboards for management, lecturers, and students.

The effective use of data to predict student success and identify and support at-risk students enables the University to develop early interventions to support at-risk students. Instead of looking backwards and acting after a problem has become apparent, the use of predictive analytics’ early alerts can prevent a possible future problem.

There are several data functions embedded in clickUP (Blackboard). The first essential requirement is the use of Bb Grade Center (see the Grade Center clickUP help site). The following are some of the important links: create calculated columns and set up a meaningful external grade column. The use of the Grade Center will allow a lecturer to monitor their students' performance using the:

Blackboard Analytics for Learn Student Report allows students to compare their activity and progress with their peers in the same course. 

Each undergraduate course also has access to the Student Risk Reports under Evaluation in the Course management links. Blackboard Engage (formerly Blackboard Predict) is a student success solution that leverages LMS activity and student biographical data and advanced analytics to identify students at risk, making early intervention possible. The Instructor Report provides an integrated dashboard at the aggregated and individual student level.

There are online courses on the use of the Grade Center and data in clickUP. The Metrical course focuses on using data in clickUP to monitor student participation. In contrast, the Grade Center course includes relevant information such as allowing students to monitor their progress using a progress mark etc. Lecturers do not need to register for these courses; they can enrol themselves and continue. On completion of a course, they will receive a letter of participation. If you need a practice clickUP course, contact the e-support office ([email protected]) and request a “practice” course. Provide your EMPLID in the email as well.


Students value caring and encouraging messages from their lecturers in addition to the communication of administration/learning-related matters. Use the clickUP Announcements tool for one-to-many, one-way communication from the lecturer to the whole class. Use the Retention Center in clickUP to check which students have not logged in the past five days and contact these students. Using the Discussion Tool in clickUP will create a sense of immediacy. A more powerful way is to use Blackboard Collaborate to be virtually available during scheduled classes. 

Tutor training videos 

The tutor training course videos cover three themes:
  • Roles and responsibilities, characteristics of a successful tutor, creating a constructive learning environment and managing diversity:
    • 01A The Tutor: Roles & responsibilities (14:17 min):
    • 01B Characteristics of a good tutor (8:47):
    • 01C Ground rules for a safe space (5:33):
    • 01D Managing diversity (10:24):
  • The growth mindset, motivation and difficult student-types:
    • 02A Difficult students (12:52):
    • 02B Growth mindset & learning (12:54):
    • 02C Motivation and reflection (15:26):
  • The 7 principles of how learning works, questioning techniques for tutors and study tips for students: 
    • 03A How learning works (22:54):
    • 03b Questioning (13:40):
    • 03C Study skills (10:06):
- Author Gerrit Stols
Published by Gerrit Stols

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