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Learning Exercise

Material: Teaching at an Internet Distance: the Pedagogy of Online
Submitted by: Nancy J. Pelaez on May 01, 2003
Date Last Modified: Jul 25, 2005
Title: Rubric for biweekly Discussion Board participation self-assessment
Description: Teachers, trainers, and professors with years of experience in classrooms report that ?computer networking encourages the high-quality interaction and sharing that is at the heart of education. ...(The) characteristics of online classes... generally result in students' contributing material that is much better than something they would say off the top of their heads in a face-to-face class. Shy students who have trouble participating in a classroom discussion are said to feel more comfortable in an online setting. The ability to sit and think as one composes a question or comment also can raise the quality of the discussion. On the other hand, unless the teacher facilitates the networking activities skillfully, serious problems may develop. A conference may turn into a monologue of lecture-type material to which very few responses are made.? The Pedagogy of Online report at highlights the following questions to ask about the quality of Online learning:

Is learning competence equal or superior to that of a traditional classroom?

Are students engaged in the material? Does each student participate in the communication? Is there real depth to the students' responses?

Is there interaction between professors and their students, and between the students themselves? Has a "community of learners" been established from which students derive motivation?

We find that the attached Discussion Board Rubric works to turn ?no? answers into ?yes? answers. Items where it becomes difficult to answer either yes or no locate a developmental area that can be made a pedagogical focus.

Although, the instructor has an important role in moderating interactions, students can also self-assess by using the attached rubric questions in two ways: to help focus on essential learning of how to handle discussions and to help focus on the evidence that reflects development of scientific discussion skills.
Type of Task: Core activity, Student-centered, Team
Time Required Biweekly self-assessment of weekly discussion baord participation
Topics: Discussion Board, Rubric, metacognition, self-assessment
Course: BIOL 409 Teaching Evolution: Online Course for Teachers
Audience: College General Ed, College Upper Division
Learning Objectives: Present your own ideas and allow them to be considered in light of the evidence.

Compare your ideas to textbooks and other printed resources using evidence and references to support your statements.

Consider alternatives and justify the ideas you support.

Recognize naive ideas and relinquish or refine them after considering evidence.
Technical Notes: The form was created using MS Frontpage and responses feed into a spreadsheet that only the instructor can view. Responses can also be sent via email directly to the instructor. This form requires Frontpage extensions on the server, but could also be created on paper or using CGI scripts.
Text of Learning Exercise: Weekly review questions for the course are addressed through participation in an online collaborative Blackboard Discussion Board. The goal is for students to participate in educated discussions with other students. Weekly participation is required and is scored bi-weekly using the rubric that appears under the Assessment URL. It was developed and changed based on students and instructor comments posted in the CourseFAQs discussion board during the first few weeks of class. The review questions are to help students discuss what is learned from the assignments and to clarify thoughts about the content presented. Contributions are to be substantive and supported by reference to the textbooks, online resources, or empirical evidence.

The purpose of the form is two-fold: (1) to check the reliability of the biweekly scores for participation in the discussion forum and (2) to identify problems with the discussion board rubric so that the scoring items can be revised to make the rubric score more accurate. Discussion board score changes are considered only for those students who self assess using this form. Students are expected to justify responses to these questions.

The questions are used in two ways: to help focus on essential learning of how to handle discussions about evolution and to help focus on the evidence that reflects your development of scientific discussion skills. Within a week of the bi-weekly deadline for the discussion board, students review the list to identify questions that can be answered ?yes.? They work to turn ?no? answers into ?yes? answers. Items where it becomes difficult to answer either yes or no locate the developmental area of focus. A score is calculated by counting ?yes? responses as 1 point, ?no? answers as 0 points, and difficult to answer ?yes? or ?no? as 1/2 point.
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