A defense of student evaluations: They’re biased, misleading, and extremely useful.
The answer requires us to think about power. If you look hard at the structure of academia, you will see a lot of teachers who, in one way or another, lack power: adjuncts and term hires (a large population, and growing); untenured faculty (especially in universities like mine); faculty, even tenured faculty, in schools where budget cuts loom; graduate students, always and everywhere. You might see evaluations as instruments by which students, or administrators, exercise power over those vulnerable employees. But if you are a student, and especially if you are a student who cares what grades you get or who needs recommendations, then teachers, for you—even adjuncts and graduate teaching assistants—hold power.
Chairmen and deans also need to know when classroom teaching fails: when a professor makes catastrophically wrong assumptions as to what students already know, for example, or when students find a professor incomprehensible thanks to her thick Scottish accent. My note: indeed, when chairmen and deans KNOW what they are doing and are NOT using evaluations for their own power.
Student Course Evaluations Get An ‘F’ : NPR Ed : NPR
Philip Stark is the chairman of the statistics department at the University of California, Berkeley. “I’ve been teaching at Berkeley since 1988, and the reliance on teaching evaluations has always bothered me,” he says.
Stark is the co-author of “An Evaluation of Course Evaluations,” a new paper that explains some of the reasons why.
Michele Pellizzari, an economics professor at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, has a more serious claim: that course evaluations may in fact measure, and thus motivate, the opposite of good teaching. Here’s what he found. The better the professors were, as measured by their students’ grades in later classes, the lower their ratings from students.
“Show me your stuff,” Stark says. “Syllabi, handouts, exams, video recordings of class, samples of students’ work. Let me know how your students do when they graduate. That seems like a much more holistic appraisal than simply asking students what they think.”
Tobin, T. J., Mandernach, B. J., & Taylor, A. H. (2015). Evaluating Online Teaching: Implementing Best Practices (1 edition). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- 5 measurable faculty competencies for on line teaching:
- attend to unique challenges of distance learning
- Be familiar with unique learning needs
- Achieve mastery of course content, structure , and organization
- Respond to student inquiries
- Provide detailed feedback
- Communicate effectively
- Promote a safe learning environment
- Monitor student progress
- Communicate course goals
- Provide evidence of teaching presence.
Best practices include:
- Making interactions challenging yet supportive for students
- Asking learners to be active participants in the learning process
- Acknowledging variety on the ways that students learn best
- Providing timely and constructive feedback
- Instructor knowledge
- Method of instruction
- Instructor-student rapport
- Teaching behaviors
- Enthusiastic teaching
- Concern for teaching
8. The American Association for higher Education 9 principle4s of Good practice for assessing student learning from 1996 hold equally in the F2F and online environments:
the assessment of student learning beings with educational values
assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of learning as multidimensional, integrated and revealed in performance over time
assessment works best when the programs it seeks to improve have clear, explicitly stated purposes.
Assessment requires attention to outcomes but also and equally to the experiences that lead to those outcomes.
Assessment works best when it is ongoing, not episodic
Assessment fosters wider improvement when representatives from across the educational community are involved
Assessment makes a difference when it begins with issues of use and illumines questions that people really care bout
Assessment is most likely to lead to improvements when it is part of the large set of conditions that promote change.
Through assessment, educators meet responsibilities to students and to the public.
9 most of the online teaching evaluation instruments in use today are created to evaluate content design rather than teaching practices.
29 stakeholders for the evaluation of online teaching
- faculty members with online teaching experience
- campus faculty members as a means of establishing equitable evaluation across modes of teaching
- contingent faculty members teaching online
- department or college administrators
- members of faculty unions or representative governing organizations
- administrative support specialists
- distance learning administrators
- technology specialists
- LMS administrators
- Faculty development and training specialists
- Institutional assessment and effectiveness specialists
Sample student rating q/s
Rate the effectiveness of the online library for locationg course materials
Based on your experience,
148. Checklist for Online Interactive Learning COIL
150. Quality Online Course Initiative QOCI
151 QM Rubric
154 The Online Insturctor Evaluation System OIES
163 Data Analytics: moving beyond student learning
- # of announcments posted per module
- # of contributions to the asynchronous discussion boards
- Quality of the contributions
- Timeliness of posting student grades
- Timelines of student feedback
- Quality of instructional supplements
- Quality of feedback on student work
- Frequency of logins
- 180 understanding big data
- factor structure
187 a holistics valuation plan should include both formative evaluation, in which observations and rating are undertaken with the purposes of improving teaching and learning, and summative evaluation, in which observation and ratings are used in order to make personnel decisions, such as granting promotion and tenure, remediation, and asking contingent faculty to teach again.
195 separating teaching behaviors from content design
more on online teaching in this IMS blog
The Online Discussion group for Blended and Online Learning leads an interesting discussion on course evaluations; here are the highlights:
When we first started in 1999, we included ~10 questions in addition to our standard questions that were different for online courses. This information was particularly useful as we grew our online offerings (i.e. Would you take another online course. 93-5% answered yes consistently. How would you rate the level of interactivity between you and the instructor? Between you and the other students?) These were administered via SurveyMonkey because there were no online evaluation services back then.
Now we have a single evaluation that is administered to all students regardless of the delivery format (online, hybrid, blended, F2F or intensive) The questions were designed to be relevant regardless of the delivery format. All of these evaluations are administered online…which has its downsides (e.g. response rate is less especially compared to what was captured in F2F classes in the past.) We continue to explore ways to increase the response rate.
Reta Chaffee Director of Educational Technology-Academic Affairs Granite State College 25 Hall Street Concord, NH 03301 (603) 513-1350
On Behalf Of Krajewski, Scott
Sent: Friday, February 17, 2017 1:00 PM
Subject: Re: [BLEND-ONLINE] Course Evaluations
Hi Hala, We have a standard online evaluation form for all courses. We do add 3 questions to the sports courses but otherwise we’re 100% standardized. We have a ton of info at
You might find this study (or the related literature) helpful — http://patricklowenthal.com/publications/Student-Perceptions-of-Online-Learning–Analysis-of-Online-Course-Evaluations.pdf
Patrick Patrick R. Lowenthal | Associate Professor Educational Technology, Boise State University http://www.patricklowenthal.com
On Behalf Of Rob Gibson
Sent: Friday, February 17, 2017 8:39 AM
Subject: Re: [BLEND-ONLINE] Course Evaluations
We use the IDEA evaluation framework combined with CampusLabs as the delivery engine.
- IDEA is a well-established evaluation process dating back to the 1970s.
- The CampusLabs delivery process (new as of about 2 years ago) provides students with a single URL to complete their evaluations – on-campus or on-line. Mobile friendly.
- It uses the same base evaluation criteria across the university. (That’s how IDEA is able to substantiate reliability and validity.) IDEA is matched against a national database using a CIP code. Hence, faculty can gather comparative data of their course against other similar courses in the university, or at the national level.
- While each department uses the same basic framework, there are modification that can be made. For example, custom questions can be added to the eval (these fall outside the scope of the comparative data) and the learning objectives can be modified by course, department, school, college. We have one School that has custom learning objectives for each course in their program. Objectives are set using a 3 point Likert scale.
Very easy to set up a survey administration. Data is retrievable within 48 hours after close.
more on online learning in this IMS blog
doctoral cohort student’s request for literature: “I am looking for some more resources around the historical context of teacher evaluation.”
Allen, J., Gregory, A., Mikami, A. I., Lun, J., Hamre, B., & Pianta, R. (2013). Observations of Effective Teacher-Student Interactions in Secondary School Classrooms: Predicting Student Achievement With the Classroom Assessment Scoring System—Secondary. School Psychology Review, 42(1), 76–98.
Alonzo, A. C. (2011). COMMENTARIES Learning Progressions That Support Formative Assessment Practices. Measurement, 9, 124–129. http://doi.org/10.1080/15366367.2011.599629
Baker, B. D., Oluwole, J. O., & Green, P. C. (2013). The Legal Consequences of Mandating High Stakes Decisions Based on Low Quality Information: Teacher Evaluation in the Race-to-the-Top Era. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 21(5), 1–71. http://doi.org/http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/1298
Benedict, A. E., Thomas, R. a., Kimerling, J., & Leko, C. (2013). Trends in Teacher Evaluation. Teaching Exceptional Children. May/Jun2013, 45(5), 60–68.
Bonavitacola, A. C., Guerrazzi, E., & Hanfelt, P. (2014). TEACHERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF THE IMPACT OF THE McREL TEACHER EVALUATION SYSTEM ON PROFESSIONAL GROWTH.
Charlotte Danielson. (2016). Creating Communities of Practice. Educational Leadership, (May), 18 – 23.
Darling-Hammond, L., Wise, A. E., & Pease, S. R. (1983). Teacher Evaluation in the Organizational Context: A Review of the Literature. Review of Educational Research, 53(3), 285–328. http://doi.org/10.3102/00346543053003285
Darling-Hammond, L., Jaquith, A., & Hamilton, M. (n.d.). Creating a Comprehensive System for Evaluating and Supporting Effective Teaching.
Derrington, M. L. (n.d.). Changes in Teacher Evaluation: Implications for the Principal’s Work.
Gallagher, H. A. (2004). Vaughn Elementary’s Innovative Teacher Evaluation System: Are Teacher Evaluation Scores Related to Growth in Student Achievement? Peabody Journal of Education, 79(4), 79–107. http://doi.org/10.1207/s15327930pje7904_5
Hallgren, K., James-Burdumy, S., & Perez-Johnson, I. (2014). STATE REQUIREMENTS FOR TEACHER EVALUATION POLICIES PROMOTED BY RACE TO THE TOP.
Hattie Helen E-Mail Address, J. T., Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. [References]. Review of Educational Research, .77(1), 16–7. http://doi.org/10.3102/003465430298487
Hazi, H. M. (n.d.). Legal Challenges to Teacher Evaluation: Pitfalls and Possibilities in the States. http://doi.org/10.1080/00098655.2014.891898
Ingle, W. K., Willis, C., & Fritz, J. (2014). Collective Bargaining Agreement Provisions in the Wake of Ohio Teacher Evaluation System Legislation. Educational Policy. http://doi.org/10.1177/0895904814559249
Marzano, R. J. (2012). The Two Purposes of Teacher Evaluation. Educational Leadership, 70(3), 14–19. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=83173912&site=ehost-live
Moskal, A. C. M., Stein, S. J., & Golding, C. (2016). Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education Can you increase teacher engagement with evaluation simply by improving the evaluation system? Can you increase teacher engagement with evaluation simply by improving the evaluation system? http://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2015.1007838
Quinn, A. E. (n.d.). The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin Looking a t th e B igger Picture w ith Dr. R o b ert M arzan o : Teacher E valuation and D e v e lo p m e n t fo r Im p ro ved S tu d en t Learning.
Riordan, J., Lacireno-Paquet, Shakman, N., Bocala, K., & Chang, C. (2015). Redesigning teacher evaluation: Lessons from a pilot implementation. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/
Taylor, E. S., & Tyler, J. H. (n.d.). Evidence of systematic growth in the effectiveness of midcareer teachers Can Teacher Evaluation Improve Teaching?
Tuytens, M., & Devos, G. (n.d.). The problematic implementation of teacher evaluation policy: School failure or governmental pitfall? http://doi.org/10.1177/1741143213502188
Wong, W. Y., & Moni, K. (2013). Teachers’ perceptions of and responses to student evaluation of teaching: purposes and uses in clinical education. http://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2013.844222
my list of literature:
Avalos, B., & Assael, J. (2006). Moving from resistance to agreement: The case of the Chilean teacher performance evaluation. International Journal of Educational Research, 45(4-5), 254-266.
Cowen, J. M., & Fowles, J. (2013). Same contract, different day? an analysis of teacher bargaining agreements in Louisville since 1979. Teachers College Record, 115(5)
Flippo, R. F. (2002). Repeating history: Teacher licensure testing in Massachusetts. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 16(3), 211-29.
Griffin, G. (1997). Teaching as a gendered experience. Journal of Teacher Education, 48(1), 7-18.
Hellawell, D. E. (1992). Structural changes in education in England. International Journal of Educational Reform, 1(4), 356-65.
Hibler, D. W., & Snyder, J. A. (2015). Teaching matters: Observations on teacher evaluations. Schools: Studies in Education, 12(1), 33-47.
Hill, H. C., & Grossman, P. (2013). Learning from teacher observations: Challenges and opportunities posed by new teacher evaluation systems. Harvard Educational Review, 83(2), 371-384.
Hines, L. M. (2007). Return of the thought police?: The history of teacher attitude adjustment. Education Next, 7(2), 58-65.
Kersten, T. A. (2006). Teacher tenure: Illinois school board presidents’ perspectives and suggestions for improvement. Planning and Changing, 37(3-4), 234-257.
Kersten, T. A., & Israel, M. S. (2005). Teacher evaluation: Principals’ insights and suggestions for improvement. Planning and Changing, 36(1-2), 47-67.
Korkmaz, I. (2008). Evaluation of teachers for restructured elementary curriculum (grades 1 to 5). Education, 129(2), 250-258.
Lamb, M. L., & Swick, K. J. (1975). Historical overview of teacher observation Educational Forum.
Maharaj, S. (2014). Administrators’ views on teacher evaluation: Examining Ontario’s teacher performance appraisal. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, (152)
Naba’h, A. A., Al-Omari, H., Ihmeideh, F., & Al-Wa’ily, S. (2009). Teacher education programs in Jordan: A reform plan. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 30(3), 272-284.
Ornstein, A. C. (1977). Critics and criticism of education Educational Forum.
Pajak, E., & Arrington, A. (2004). Empowering a profession: Rethinking the roles of administrative evaluation and instructional supervision in improving teacher quality. Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, 103(1), 228-252.
Stamelos, G., & Bartzakli, M. (2013). The effect of a primary school teachers, trade union on the formation and realisation of policy in Greece: The case of teacher evaluation policy. Policy Futures in Education, 11(5), 575-588.
Stamelos, G., Vassilopoulos, A., & Bartzakli, M. (2012). Understanding the difficulties of implementation of a teachers’ evaluation system in greek primary education: From national past to european influences. European Educational Research Journal, 11(4), 545-557.
Sullivan, J. P. (2012). A collaborative effort: Peer review and the history of teacher evaluations in Montgomery county, Maryland. Harvard Educational Review, 82(1), 142-152.
Tierney, W. G., & Lechuga, V. M. (2005). Academic freedom in the 21st century. Thought & Action, , 7-22.
Turri, M. (2014). The new italian agency for the evaluation of the university system (ANVUR): A need for governance or legitimacy? Quality in Higher Education, 20(1), 64-82.
VanPatten, J. J. (1972). Some reflections on accountability Journal of Thought.
Vijaysimha, I. (2013). Teachers as professionals: Accountable and autonomous? review of the report of the justice Verma commission on teacher education. august 2012. department of school education and literacy, ministry of human resource development, government of India. Contemporary Education Dialogue, 10(2), 293-299.
Vold, D. J. (1985). The roots of teacher testing in America. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 4(3), 5-7.
Wermke, W., & Höstfält, G. (2014). Contextualizing teacher autonomy in time and space: A model for comparing various forms of governing the teaching profession. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 46(1), 58-80.
Ydesen, C., & Andreasen, K. E. (2014). Accountability practices in the history of Danish primary public education from the 1660s to the present. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 22(120)
resources on student-centered learning and the use of rubrics, multimedia, social media to personalize and engage learners
what is student-centered learning:
Student-centered learning, also known as learner-centered education, broadly encompasses methods of teaching that shift the focus of instruction from the teacher to the student. In original usage, student-centered learning aims to develop learner autonomy and independence  by putting responsibility for the learning path in the hands of students. Student-centered instruction focuses on skills and practices that enable lifelong learning and independent problem-solving. Student-centered learning theory and practice are based on the constructivist learning theory that emphasizes the learner’s critical role in constructing meaning from new information and prior experience. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student-centred_learning
Student-centered learning moves students from passive receivers of information to active participants in their own discovery process. What students learn, how they learn it and how their learning is assessed are all driven by each individual student’s needs and abilities.
At the system level, this requires implementing curriculum planning practices, pedagogy and assessment methods that support a student-centric approach. In the classroom, teachers craft instruction and apply technology in a way that best serves each student’s learning journey. Technology use is always guided by two primary criteria:
- What’s appropriate for the task at hand?
- How can activities be designed to develop higher-order thinking skills?
Why is it important?
When students take responsibility for their own learning, they become explorers capable of leveraging their curiosity to solve real-world problems. To that end, the ISTE Standards guide teachers toward designing learning experiences that permit student independence and foster lifelong learning.
Technology allows for an unprecedented level of personalized learning, with valuable opportunities to monitor progress and engagement, follow student thinking, and digitally assess competencies. When schools effectively leverage both technology and pedagogy, both students and teachers become empowered to make decisions about their own learning and teaching.
True student-centered learning requires more than just an increase in technology implementation. It represents a shift in the educational culture toward a system that supports technology for standards-based learning and real-world problem solving. As a system transitions to a student-centered approach, educators can more effectively apply technology to improve learning outcomes and help students develop the skills for college and career readiness.
student-centered learning is including different methods, such as:
- active learning.
- cooperative learning.
- inductive teaching and learning.
- minimizing or eliminating student resistance to student-centered teaching methods.
- Links to relevant web sites.
The University of Minnesota Cooperative Learning Center.
- personalized learning
- anytime anywhere learning
student-centered learning through assessment : create the right rubrics
#2 from http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2013/12/24/ctq_powell_strengths.html
Steffens, K. (2014). E-rubrics to facilitate self-regulated learning. Revista De Docencia Universitaria, 12(1), 11-12.
Rejab, M. M., Awang, I. b., Hassan, S. b., & Ahmad, M. b. (2010). Customizable Rubrics Model for Formative Evaluation of Problem-Based Learning Course. Annual International Conference On Infocomm Technologies In Competitive Strategies, 126-131. doi:10.5176/978-981-08-7240-3_I-51
CORLU, M. S. (2013). Insights into STEM Education Praxis: An Assessment Scheme for Course Syllabi.Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 13(4), 2477-2485. doi:10.12738/estp.2013.4.1903
Ma, A. W. (2009). A Longitudinal Study of the Use of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning in Promoting Lifelong Learning Skills. Issues In Informing Science & Information Technology, 665-86.
Klein, G. C., & Carney, J. M. (2014). Comprehensive Approach to the Development of Communication and Critical Thinking: Bookend Courses for Third- and Fourth-Year Chemistry Majors. Journal Of Chemical Education,91(10), 1649-1654. doi:10.1021/ed400595j
Moore, T. J., Guzey, S. S., Roehrig, G. H., Stohlmann, M., Park, M. S., Kim, Y. R., & … Teo, H. J. (2015). Changes in Faculty Members’ Instructional Beliefs while Implementing Model-Eliciting Activities. Journal Of Engineering Education, 104(3), 279-302. doi:10.1002/jee.20081
student-centered learning through engagement and buy-in: engage with multimedia
More on student centered learning in this blog:
student-centered learning through engagement and buy-in: engage with social media
#3 from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-teaching-strategies/five-characteristics-of-learner-centered-teaching/
Attard, A., Di lorio Emma, Geven, K., & Santa, R. (2010, October). Student-Centred Learning Toolkit for students, staff and higher education institutions. Education International. Retrieved from http://pascl.eu/wp-content/uploads/SCL_toolkit_ESU_EI.pdf
Classroom Discussion and Students Participation: how to Secure Student Engagement to Increase Learning and Improve Teaching
- How to increase the number of students who take part in classroom discussions
- How to avoid the problem of dominant talkers
- How to encourage introverted students to increase their participation in classroom discussions
- Strategies to help your students recognize what they learned in any discussion
- How to use the first day of the semester to engage your students—and techniques for getting them to participate right from the start
- What common classroom practices can decrease the likelihood of a student participating in discussion?
- What strategies can you use to overcome established classroom practices and increase student participation?
- And how can you structure classroom discussions to better facilitate student learning?
What does Research Tell Us about Classroom Discussion? Jay Howard
Do College Students Participate More in Discussion in Traditional Delivery Courses or in Interactive Telecourses?
facts from sociological research:
- Gender yields mixed results
- Males participate more frequently than females.
- Males participate more frequently in courses taught by female instructors
- Other studies show the opposite
- Non traditional students participate more frequently
- Instructors’ gender also returns mixed results
- Class size as variable is important, smaller classes, more participation
- Class participation – grading
- Make the students grade themselves at the end of each class period. By making them grade themselves, they reflect and makes them more aware of their contribution.
0 – absent
1 – present but did not verbally participate
2 – verbally participated one time
3 – verbally participated more than once
4 – made an equitable contribution to discussion in terms of both quantity and quality
- The well-known and established belief that smaller classes spur more participation.
Jay Howard maintain his sociological research in 20th centuries constants: physical classroom, no technology surrounding.
In the 21st century, clickers changed the opportunity for immediate feedback. They changed also the discourse of the traditional student participation and classroom discussion:
Traditional forms and techniques for discussion and participation
Weih, T. G. (2015). Discussion Strategies for the Inclusion of ALL Students. Online Submission,
call on student
instructor’s personality issues:
Does the instructor really care of what students have to say
lecturing does not predispose to discussion
- The 10 second rule: students discuss in pairs the concept/question
- Think-Pair-Share: discussion strategy before or after lesson, similar to 10 second but longer
- Quick writes: write their thoughts and then share. Loose paper, names on top,
- Recorder-reporter. Post-lecture. The person reps the group, who is working on a specific question. Each group different question.
- K-W-L. what we know, what we want to learn, what we learned. Teacher instructs students that K = what they know, W = what they want to learn and L = what they learned. . work in small groups, but each student works on h/er chart, thus if student disagrees with rest of the group, has record. L is left blank for after the discussion.
Simich-Dudgeon, C., & National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, W. D. (1998). Classroom Strategies for Encouraging Collaborative Discussion. Directions in Language and Education. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED435188
Chen, W., & Looi, C. (2007). Incorporating Online Discussion in Face to Face Classroom Learning: A New Blended Learning Approach. Australasian Journal Of Educational Technology, 23(3), 307-326.
Discussions and participation in hybrid environment
Jinhong, J., & Gilson, T. A. (2014). Online Threaded Discussion: Benefits, Issues, and Strategies. Kinesiology Review, 3(4), 241-246.
For each OTD topic, the instructor randomly assigns two to four student discussion leaders who are in charge of organizing OTD for the assigned week. Each of the discussion leaders is asked to generate one or two discussion questions related to the topic based on reading assignments. The use of student discussion leaders is a strategy to encourage active participation and help develop ownership of learning. Once student discussion leaders post their questions, other students are encouraged to contribute to the discussion by answering each question, commenting on the ideas of others, or asking questions of peers or the instructor for the next two days. When the week’s discussion is complete, the student leaders and instructor work together to summarize the discussion and evaluate each student’s participation and contribution to the discussion using a scoring rubric. (p.242)
Implementation (p. 243):
- preparation : On the first day of the course, the instructor introduces topics, how-tos, expectations, grading procedures, and required reading assignments for OTD, and organizes discussion leaders for each online discussion (2–4 leaders for each)
- Opening and Responding: Posted discussion questions become open at the time of the class and students who are not the leaders are required to post at least one response per question within 48 hrs. During this time, the leaders facilitate discussion by responding to comments, raising questions, or redirecting discussion to encourage active participation and ensure the discussion is on track
- Summary and Assessment: The job of the leader is to moderate, summarize discussion threads, and assess them at the end of the discussion. When the week’s discussion is complete, the leaders meet with the instructor to debrief and evaluate each student’s participation and contribution to the discussion using a scoring rubric given by the instructor. After the meeting, each leader posts his or her summary of the discussion to BBCMS and reports at the next in-person class.
Discussions and participation in online environment
Darabi, A., Liang, X., Suryavanshi, R., & Yurekli, H. (2013). Effectiveness of Online Discussion Strategies: A Meta-Analysis. American Journal Of Distance Education, 27(4), 228-241. doi:10.1080/08923647.2013.837651
Lin, P., Hou, H., Wang, S., & Chang, K. (2013). Analyzing knowledge dimensions and cognitive process of a project-based online discussion instructional activity using Facebook in an adult and continuing education course. Computers & Education, 60(1), 110-121. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.07.017
- 111 results suggest that using Facebook is not necessarily harmful to a student’s learning performance. Adequate learning activity design and pedagogical goal setting could, in fact, exploit the social and information-sharing function of Facebook, thereby supporting academic learning (Gray et al., 2010). this study seeks to advance the understanding of adult learners’ behaviors in online project discussions using Facebook.
In the process of project-based learning, learners must utilize different kinds of knowledge (e.g., discrete declarative knowledge and dynamic procedural knowledge) (Lou, 2004). Meanwhile, students can develop higher level of cognitive skills for a specific domain as well as the ability to apply adequate knowledge to a specific domain or context during PBL (Barron et al., 1998; Blumenfeld et al., 1991).
Select driving questions or controversial issues as project topics: Blumenfeld et al. (1991) noted that driving questions could facilitate students to explore the project topic. In the exploration process, students must first collect information and propose diverse viewpoints on the project topics. They could subsequently filter out and reach consensus during online discussions. This process involves diverse and converging phases that can move students toward higher-order thinking (Jorczak & Bart, 2009).
- Allow ample time for online discussion: Results of this study indicated that student online discussions lacked diversity in both knowledge and cognitive process dimensions. One possible reason could be that the allotted time for online discussions was not sufficient. Considering the multiple roles that adult learners play in family and/or work, they may not be able to respond to the discussions in a timely manner. Therefore, allowing more time for students to discuss may provide opportunities for students to demonstrate more diverse and deeper thinking (Scherling, 2011).
- Provide a structured rubric for online discussions: Well-designed discussion guidelines and evaluation criteria, i.e., posting protocols or rubric for grading, could serve as scaffolds for student online discussions, which may, subsequently, lead to more meaningful learning (Gilbert & Dabbagh, 2005). Following that, more diverse type of knowledge and levels of cognitive process could be expected to be shown.
- Pay attention to the effects that individual differences may exert on the learner’s interactions: Our results showed that, in the context of online discussions, females and older learners are more likely to have off-topic discussions than their male and/or younger counterparts. These findings are in accord with previous research that suggested effects of individual differences on learning as well as on the use of SNSs (Glynn et al., 2012; Muscanell & Guadagno, 2012; Price, 2006; Yukselturk & Bulut, 2009). Therefore, considering the potential effects that gender and age may exert on online discussions, instructors are advised to consider individual differences when grouping students for online discussions, as a balanced group composition of evenly distributed age and gender could be a better approach than a skewed distribution of individuals.
social interaction, which was considered as irrelevant discussion, may also leading to meaningful thinking and echoes the viewpoints from previous studies, which suggest social interaction can be a critical element in the CSCL environment (Abedin et al., 2011a, 2011b).
Incorporating online discussion in face to face classroom learning: A new blended learning approach
This paper discusses an innovative blended learning strategy which incorporates online discussion in both in-class face to face, and off-classroom settings. Online discussion in a face to face class is compared with its two counterparts, off-class online discussion as well as in-class, face to face oral discussion, to examine the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed strategy. By integrating online discussion into the flow of the classroom, learners are given dedicated time to foster a habit of critical thinking, reflection and articulating these online, which can subsequently seed further in-class oral discussions, and off-class online discussions. It is found that in-class, online discussion can provide a wider spectrum of discussion perspectives, equalise participation in discussion, and promote cognitive thinking skills and in depth information processing. However, the lack of face to face interactions and the need for sufficient time to do online postings pose challenges in implementing online discussion for face to face classroom learning.
PDF file available
More on classroom discussions in this IMS blog: