Summary of journalism faculty curriculum workshop


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At the end of a week-long workshop about updating the journalism curriculum at Rhodes University, we discussed a few specific types of assignments and assessment.

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  • Mindy McAdams CONTACT
  • From our first day in this workshop.
  • This is Mindy’s summary, based on our discussions across the first four days.
  • I give individual marks if team projects include individual components, such as each student on a team conducts one video interview.
  • The idea is that the questionnaire breaks out the main tasks of the project (as determined by the lecturer). Each team member determines a percentage for each one of the team members for each task, including him- or herself. The numbers tend to be fairly consistent within a team. Any anomalies usually point out a poor team member who is trying to exaggerate his/her contributions.
  • Cory taught our required Fact Finding course (University of Florida) for 10 years. A large portion of the course grade was based on a team project concerning public records. Teams were formed early in the semester and worked until the end of the semester on this project. Cory assigned 3 students to each team – they did not choose their teammates.
  • The Google form saves all data into a Google spreadsheet. After marking all students for this one assignment, I download the spreadsheet and open it in Excel, just because I’m more comfortable with formulas in Excel. I copy the original sheet into two identical sheets. On sheet A, I delete all the scores, leaving only the comments (top image here). On sheet B, I delete all the comments and add a new column for the total, which I do as an Excel SUM. In our course management system, I am able to upload the comments as a single CSV file and the system sorts them out for each individual student. Then separately I upload the scores CSV file and the system tallies those marks for each student.
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  • Mindy McAdams CONTACT
  • Summary of journalism faculty curriculum workshop

    1. 1. CONCLUSIONS Rhodes JMS Staff Workshop 9–13 June 2014
    2. 2. Where we started: Skills in demand for digital journalism 1. Collaboration and participation 2. Aggregation and curation 3. Data analysis and data graphics (including maps) 4. Photos and video 5. Social media (sharing and mining) 6. Apps and other digital-only products 7. Audience research
    3. 3. Summary: Digital everywhere • Learn multiple skills • Think about story, not about medium (print, broadcast) • Discourage silo mentality • Encourage working in teams, peer teaching & learning, collaboration among students and staff • Carry ideas and skills through, from class to class, and from year to year • Move toward students working in public and taking responsibility • Integrate social media and critical thinking about social media
    4. 4. ASSESSMENT A few suggestions from my own experience with marking blog posts, blog comments, and large classes handing in frequent production assignments
    5. 5. Marking team projects • Three- or four-student teams seem most effective • Appoint a project leader for each team (if possible, each student in the class should be a project leader once) • Provide clear guidelines to project leaders • Make clear at outset how team and individual marks (if any) will be determined • Best assessment aid: At end, provide an identical effort breakdown questionnaire to all team members and require them to fill it out (see next slide) Team structure guidelines (link)
    6. 6. Effort breakdown questionnaire (partial) Audio gathering Team member 1 name ___________ Percent ________ Team member 2 name ___________ Percent ________ Team member 3 name ___________ Percent ________ Team member 4 name ___________ Percent ________ Total = 100 Audio editing Team member 1 name ___________ Percent ________ Team member 2 name ___________ Percent ________ Team member 3 name ___________ Percent ________ Team member 4 name ___________ Percent ________ Total = 100 Each student writes breakdown for each task in the project
    7. 7. Further clarification • The lecturer breaks down the tasks within the assignment and lists them on the end-of-project questionnaire. • Each student receives the same printed or online questionnaire for reporting on the division of labor. • It’s completely fine if individual tasks were not shared equally! That’s normal for teams. • Each student writes percentage of work done for all teammates AND for him/herself. (Total: 100% per task) • By comparing all questionnaires from ONE team, the lecturer gets an accurate picture of how the work was divided; discrepancies point to issues that should be discussed with the team in a face-to-face meeting.
    8. 8. Some group tips from Cory Armstrong • Don’t go higher than 3 in a group or lower than 2. The problem with 2 is that if one drops, a student is working alone. More than 3 means that at least 1 student is not doing his/her share. • Require students to evaluate their teammates (tells a lot about the dynamic). Make students explain in that evaluation who was responsible for each task; if there are holes in the project, you can pinpoint who fell down on the job. • Face to face. When I've had difficulty with groups, I've brought them all in and had each group member explain his/her part. Often the student who slacks off can't even articulate what is in the project. Obvious.
    9. 9. Marking blog posts • Depends on the type of blog and type of assignment. • Usually I impose a strict word limit of 300–500 words. • For many blog post assignments, I mark pass/fail (1 or 0)* • For posts that require analysis, I mark 2, 1, or 0, with the “1” being reserved for posts that are not quite bad enough to warrant 0.  Blog assignment A (pass/fail) Blog assignment B (2, 1, or 0 points/marks) * Minor spelling, grammar errors, etc., will pass. But there’s a point at which too many errors, too much carelessness, is unacceptable — then, fail.
    10. 10. Required student comments • System worked out for a master’s course in which all students write blog posts on weekly assigned topics. • Each student must comment on three other students’ blogs each week. • Their blog post gets maximum 2 points, but comments are 1 point each (so 3 points/week). • Comments must provide some value to the writer of the post being commented on. (Otherwise, no point!) Details about required comments (under heading “Weekly blog comments”)
    11. 11. Training period for blogging • With a semester-long blogging assignment, hyper diligence at the start pays off • Spend lots of time reading and commenting on students’ initial two or three posts (and comments, if required) and mark strictly, even harshly (labor intensive) • This effort makes my expectations clear, and for later posts I read more lightly, mark much more quickly • The pass/fail marking system combined with required peer comments results in reasonable marking burden for the instructor, after the initial training period
    12. 12. Using Google forms for marking This is a 20-point assignment, broken down into eight components.
    13. 13. The Google form saves all data into a Google spreadsheet.
    14. 14. Benefits to Google forms for marking • Consistency and fairness (especially if you have tutors doing the marking!) • Break assignment criteria down into parts that can be easily assessed • Judge each part on a 1–0 or 2–1–0 scale (pass/fail or “enhanced” pass/fail) • Clear and straightforward for students • Always include comments! • Works very well for simpler production assignments at early stages • Makes large classes more manageable
    15. 15. Beginner production assignments • This is the set of 12 assignments — one due each week — that I created for an intro to multimedia reporting tools • Basic idea is to require each student to make something with the tool or software and turn it in • Parameters very clearly taught and requirements listed • Not fine-grained “how to do journalism” tasks — just how to use the tools properly Multimedia Reporting assignments
    16. 16. CONCLUSIONS Rhodes JMS Staff Workshop 9–13 June 2014