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How to set and track learning expectations in Brightspace

  • 4 Min Read

Communicate learning objectives to students? Maximize use of rubrics? Track student progress against expectations? Brightspace can do that!


Today we continue our exploration of how Chickering and Gamson’s seven principles of good pedagogical practice can be achieved and supported through use of the Brightspace learning management system (LMS). You can access the entire Brightspace can do that blog series here, or start from the top with our first blog on how to maintain communication with your students using Brightspace.

Principle 6: “Communicate high expectations”

For their second-to-last pedagogical principle, Chickering and Gamson discuss how you can guide students toward success simply by expecting more from them, and by communicating these high expectations. They note: “Expecting students to perform well becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when teachers and institutions hold high expectations of themselves and make extra efforts.” You may be at least vaguely familiar with the socio-psychological notion of a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby results occur based on how one interprets the situation. As such, students have the power to strive for the expectations that you have set for them and, in turn, believe that they can achieve them. Let’s explore a range of tools available in Brightspace that you can utilize to communicate learning objectives and expectations to your students.


Rubrics in Brightspace are customizable and interactive! Discover the top 10 reasons to use our Rubrics tool below:

  1. You can copy Rubrics between any of your Brightspace classes, past or present—create once, use… forever! The option to copy Rubrics can be found when using the Copy Components function.
  2. View detailed statistics that track data from each instance that you have scored an assessment using that particular Rubric.
  3. Attach Rubrics to Assignments, Discussion Topics, Grade Items, and Portfolio evidence in order to provide a transparent learning experience for your students.
  4. Assessing is a breeze—in the click of a few buttons, you can share an overall numeric score with your students, or just descriptive feedback if you prefer our No Points option.
  5. Unlike hard-copy rubrics, your bank of digital Rubrics will always be available in one centralized spot so that both students and teachers can maintain access to the annotated copy. Say goodbye to your photocopying woes!
  6. Nifty built-in features were designed to help you escape technological disasters—your Rubrics will autosave as you create them, and the system also won’t let you delete a Rubric that you’ve already attached to something. Phew!
  7. When providing feedback, include dynamic quicklinks to other places in your Brightspace class to efficiently guide your students toward relevant resources as next steps.
  8. Save yourself time by writing preconstructed comments that will auto-populate when you click on that level or criterion (you can always choose to edit or delete these prompts later). This can be a creative way to mimic an archived comment bank for yourself in Brightspace.
  9. They’re the talk of the town lately—Video Note™! Provide video feedback (or even video criteria) by clicking on the Insert Stuff icon, then Add a video-based comment through the Video Note tool. This is a great option for increased accessibility, second-language acquisition, and heightened engagement, just to name a few benefits!
  10. Incorporate our Expectations tool (see below) to include customized objectives for any or all of the success criteria that you include in your Rubric.

Great Expectations

*Depending on your institutional or regional terminology, this particular tool maybe be labeled as either Learning Outcomes, Standards, or Expectations in your system. To simplify things, we will be referring to it here as Expectations, but please note that all three terms signify the same tool.

You can access the Expectations tool from Course Admin. There, import existing learning expectations from the Achievement Standards Network™ (take a look at just how many jurisdictions are available!), or create your own custom expectations by clicking on Add Expectation. Once any number of expectations have been set up in your class, these will always be available for association in Assignments, Rubrics, Discussion Topics, and Portfolio evidence (look for the Expectations tab and/or click Add Expectations to choose from your cultivated list). When providing feedback within a tool where you have previously aligned expectations, you will be able to evaluate student progress based on the Achievement Scale that your school district has established (levels, percentages, letter grades, etc.). What’s more—our brand-new Mastery View of the Gradebook (located as a second tab in the existing Grades tool) allows teachers to scan students’ overall achievement across an entire class, as well as across each expectation. Check it out today!

Be sure to take a look at the next blog in this series for more tips and tricks.

Written by:

Rosanne Abdulla

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Table of Contents

  1. Principle 6: “Communicate high expectations”