The assessment of critical evaluation, leadership and reflection skills through participation in online discussions

This source preferred by Jacqui Taylor

Authors: Taylor, J.

Start date: 12 April 2012

Publisher: HEA

Place of Publication: York

Increasingly, educators from all disciplines are using blogs, social networking sites, VLEs and wikis to encourage academic discourse between students. However, a common problem experienced by educators is how these important learning experiences can be assessed and because of this difficulty many are not assessed; this paper will address this. For some time now, I have been using online discussions via the University VLE as a way to encourage student debate around key lecture topics (e.g. Taylor, 2002). The key learning outcomes which this assessed activity addresses, in addition to learning more about the topic, are to develop skills in reflective practice, critical evaluation and leadership. Section 1 will review the ways that face-to-face and online academic discourse between students have been assessed and some of the differences to consider when setting up online discussion activities, compared to face-to-face discussion. Section 2 will then provide a case study of the way I set up online discussions and the method I currently use to assess contributions. The final part of the paper (section 3) will review the potential for using quantitative content analysis and automated methods to assess online participation.

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