About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Using students to keep current on research

I know I have not posted anything in a while (and probably won't after this post). However, I currently am buried in grading papers from two different classes, trying to get final grades in as it is the end of the semester.

As I was reading through my student papers, I realized they had a wealth of research that I could use both in my dissertation and in my classes next semester. I have decided that texts don't have what I am looking for in my classes. I have begun to tailor the readings to my classes and assign readings from journals and academic websites. To do this, however, I need to stay current with the research. This is difficult at times, especially when I have pressing family, work, and academic responsibilities.

I have begun to cull promising articles from the resources my students used to write their final papers, an expanded reflection on a topic (or topics) of their choice within the course. I use these papers to help direct changes to the course (areas of interest to the students and areas that I might see as lacking, that perhaps I did not address in the class).

Based on my evaluation of their papers, I will then try to find new resources to address those areas I feel my course needs improvement in and come up with new activities that I can use in my class.

One area many of my students wrote about was virtual teams. Many also wrote about social loafing (always a big topic for groups used in education) and decision making. With this in mind I have decided on trying to integrate two new activities in my class next semester:

1) The virtual/online class I teach often is difficult for the students. I have been dissatisfied about the task I give them to work on. It seems unorganized and students are often confused (although that is part of the task that I want them to learn from). I have decided to expand their task from one of "introductions" to one of sharing information. After reading Jenny Luca's newest post, I decided I would have each group search for a specific item/information and then combine their findings online. This way I can have them work together using a wiki or googledocs, and hopefully see how search engines filter results depending on individual preferences. Hopefully, the groups will be diverse enough that their results will be different. If not, we can address the idea of groupthink.

2) I am going to include a peer review grade in one of the projects. The two projects I set up for my group communication are different tasks with different communication requirements. One is a very structured task in which group members are assigned specific tasks and are given an individual grade for their work within the group. The second task is ill-structured, using a student generated code of conduct, student determined project, and meeting minutes or other written form of communication to document the group work. The first is teacher directed whereas the second is student generated. The two projects overlap with the intention being that students experience two different types of groups and the communication needs that different environments require. Because the second project does not have an individual part to it, there is a lot of social loafing to the project. I have tried to get students to create a code of conduct in which they generate some form of evaluation, but students do not perceive that they have the ability to enforce their code through grades, etc... So I have decided that their code of conduct will have a peer review piece that they will then review at the end of the semester and hand it for grading individual members.

I have no qualms of using my students to do some of the leg work needed to make my classes better. This is the type of student feedback that I feel is important and much better than anonymous questionnaires asking students "how do you like the class".

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