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An analysis of blog usage in two composition classes.

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  1. 1. Student Perceptions of Blogging in Hybrid Composition Courses<br />Mark Blaauw-Hara<br />
  2. 2. Course Context<br />Two sections of hybrid ENG 112 (second semester of first-year composition).<br />Focus of course is research-based and analytical writing.<br />Classes met once per week and featured lots of out-of-class reading, drafting, and blogging.<br />Students were encouraged to post about analysis of readings and ideas/questions about essays.<br />
  3. 3. Why Include Online Discussion?<br />To strengthen classroom community.<br />Less “face time” could equate to less community.<br />Students were encouraged to bring personal connections to the readings and to help one another with analyses and essays.<br />To widen participation.<br />Students who wanted time to reflect before participating got that.<br />To encourage more writing for a larger audience than just the professor.<br />
  4. 4. Theoretical Rationale<br />Stine’s description of hybrid basic writing classes is similar in the division of in-class and out-of-class/online (including discussion for reasons I stated above).<br />Darrington discusses the desirability of strong community in composition classes and urges us to focus on encouraging it online.<br />Cody writes that online discussion is especially helpful to community college students who “are stretched to the limits regarding economic, educational, and social demands,” and that online discussion helps them fit in substantive thought/writing/connections.<br />
  5. 5. Theoretical Rationale Continued…<br />Baglione finds online discussion “inherently drives preparation and reflection” and shifts the teacher’s role to more of a “director” rather than an “actor.”<br />Chang finds positive correlations between groups’ success in online discussion and the quality of their group projects.<br />Shu and Wang write that “blogs enhanc[e] social interaction [… and] build a sense of community, to strengthen communication skills, and to write for a real audience.”<br />
  6. 6. Blog Specifics<br />I established a private (student-only) blog for each section. I used Blogger.<br />The course syllabus contained a paragraph describing desirable blog interactions, including number of posts and possible subjects. A grade for the blog was listed as a part of their overall participation grade.<br />I handed out sample positive and negative blog post models on the first day of class and discussed them.<br />In class, I periodically encouraged students to post on the blog and suggested possible topics to discuss. <br />I did not (in contrast to past classes) post specific discussion questions. My rationale was that I had felt in the past that specific questions had limited the discussion, and that students had only talked about what I had asked.<br />
  7. 7. Study Specifics<br />In the twelfth week of a sixteen-week semester, I passed out an anonymous six-question survey to both classes. I received twenty-eight surveys.<br />The first three questions focused on the blog and asked how they had used it, how they would assess the quality of their posts, and how they would improve the blog.<br />The fourth and fifth questions asked them to evaluate the course structure and whether (and what) they had learned.<br />The sixth question asked them to name the most and least effective components of the course.<br />
  8. 8. Study Methods<br />I looked for patterns in each question’s answers.<br />Because students were allowed to write what they wanted, I had to develop categories in which to place answers.<br />I also looked at Blogger’s (limited) use statistics.<br />Although my methods leave room for error, I think they are suggestive, especially when correlated with the findings of more rigorously structured studies.<br />
  9. 9. Findings (Only the Highlights!)<br />Self-reported learning was consistent with course outcomes. Overall student satisfaction with the course was high.<br />Students were comfortable with the hybrid structure and the balance of in- and out-of-class work.<br />The blog was the most frequent answer to “what was least effective.”<br />Interest in the blog decreased over the semester. This is supported by Blogger’s page-view data.<br />Students want more specific assignments on the blog, a clearer grading system for blog posts, and more interaction from all students.<br />
  10. 10. Conclusions<br />Like the teachers described by Shu and Wang, I may have felt comfortable and confident with my in-class teaching and de-emphasized the blog. If I want it in the class, I will need to rework it to increase its success.<br />As McCorkle recommends, I will address students’ desire for clearer grading standards by providing more examples and feedback, especially at the beginning of the course.<br />I will craft more specific assignments for the blog. However… (next slide)<br />
  11. 11. Conclusions Continued<br />Crafting appropriate assignments is difficult:<br />Milman advocates the use of Bloom’s Taxonomy in writing discussion questions to push students to use higher-level thinking.<br />But Christopher et al. found no relationship between the thinking level of the prompt and the level of student responses (again using Bloom’s).<br />Havard et al. suggest a series of assignments that require collaboration on the discussion board to complete, thereby pushing higher-level thinking. This intrigues me.<br />
  12. 12. Final Conclusions<br />The blog (or some type of online discussion) is a valid tool for a hybrid composition class.<br />This semester’s blog did not realize its potential.<br />Changes for next time will include the following:<br />More examples and feedback.<br />A clearer grading policy.<br />Weekly questions and possibly off-blog assignments that require on-blog interaction. (I am still thinking about exactly how I will do this.)<br />
  13. 13. References (Not Totally in MLA to Save Space)<br />Baglione, Stephen, and Michael Nastanski. “The Superiority of Online Discussion: Faculty Perceptions.” The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 2007.<br />Chang, Chi-Cheng. “A Case Study on the Relationships between Participation in Online Discussion and Achievement of Project Work.” Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 2008.<br />Christopher, Mary, Julie Thomas, and Mary Tallent-Runnels. “Raising the Bar: Encouraging High Level Thinking in Online Discussion Forums.” Roeper Review, 2004.<br />
  14. 14. References Continued<br />Cody, Jim. “Asynchronous Online Discussion Forums: Going Vibrantly beyond the Shadow of the Syllabus.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, 2003.<br />Darrington, Anjanette. “Six Lessons in e-Learning: Strategies and Support for Teachers New to Online Environments.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, 2008.<br />Havard, Byron, Jianxia Du, and Anthony Olinzock. “Deep Learning: The Knowledge, Methods, and Cognition Process in Instructor-led Online Discussion.” The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 2005.<br />
  15. 15. References Continued<br />McCorkle, Ben. “English 109.02: Intensive Reading and Writing II, ‘Reading, Writing, Blogging.” Composition Studies, 2010.<br />Shu, Hui-Yin, and Shiangkwei Wang. “The Impact of Using Blogs on college Students’ Reading Comprehension and Learning Motivation.” Literacy Research and Instruction, 2011.<br />Stine, Linda. “The Best of Both Worlds: Teaching Basic Writers in Class and Online.” The Journal of Basic Writing, 2004.<br />