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bullet Using peer assessment assisted by ICT for programming assignments

Computer Science - Ashley Ward

The author presents a case study involving a computer programming and information structures course. Lab sessions, consisting of a worksheet followed by a test, are introduced to replace badly attended seminars. The testing produces a mass of paper scripts, which are hard to mark effectively, and so a move is made to an on-line assessment system. The system contains the usual multiple choice questions but its novel and perhaps innovative feature is that it assists anonymous peer assessment. This paper attempts to link the decisions made back to the aims and objectives of the course and evaluate the ideas in the light of some educational theory.

The full paper can be found here

bulelt Enhancing research-based approaches in dissertation work through student web publishing

Law - Abdul Paliwala

The aim of this teaching development was to establish how students and staff could use a technology-based information and communication system in the preparation and supervision of dissertations. The main educational objective was to increase the quality of students' thinking processes and therefore their research work. The main failing of a student's approach is often a superficial interpretation of the course information and assignment meaning and depth required. An assignment and assessment scheme was developed based on making those working and study practices leading to high quality work more transparent to the students. This allows students to approach future assignments and finally dissertations with greater success and originality.

The process not accidentally reflects the research process practised by experienced academics. Working with the TELRI Project , a simple and easy-to-use web facility was established for students to publish their dissertation outlines, comment on each others' approaches and receive feedback from tutors before submitting a final version.

The approach has assisted in enabling students to understand the problems involved in writing dissertation outlines. Their research capabilities were enhanced by the opportunities offered in sharing and commenting on work in progress. The TELRI team noted from discussions with tutors and students that the approaches provided more transparency and that students learnt a great deal from each other as well as from the tutors comments on all pieces of work not just their own.

In terms of the technical objectives, the TELRI team felt that the simplicity of the web publishing tool (a simple web form-based system) was a key factor in getting the students (and staff) to use IT for sharing their ideas. The staff found it a useful means of providing feedback to students at the time it was needed. Overall, the study suggests that the level of tutor support required on courses can be reduced without a reduction and indeed a possible increase in support quality.

A full case study account of the approaches and evaluation can be found on the TELRI web site  along with contact details for the TELRI project team and information concerning the web publishing facility described.

bullet Supporting historical research - development of a web-based course on Local History

Continuing Education (Oxford) - Jonathan Darby & Phil Joyce, TALL Programme

Local History Online is a web-based course that aims to develop the student as a confident and proficient researcher of family and community history. There are 10 units in which the concepts and methods of historical research are studied and in which the nature, sources and approaches to the research of local history are evaluated. Learning outcomes are specified at each level of the course alongside the medium required to support study towards these (e.g. PDF documents, animation clips, discussion conferences etc.). Unit 0 is an introductory session in which all procedures are outlined, site navigation is explained, students are assigned an online tutor, and a discussion format is initiated. Research-based problems and evaluation instructed tasks are presented as "learning objects" and supported by online tools, databases and primary resources. Students in later runs of the course will have access to examples of previous work.

The web learning environment presents the students with the structure of the course through its hierarchy levels: course, modules, units and assignments, navigation design and use of "learning objects". The course is resource heavy and electronic documents (PDF) are available to students at relevant point in their assignments (learning objects). A key design requirement was simplicity and ease of use. Navigation approaches were designed to assist students in contextualisation of individual learning objects into the bigger picture. Students are given a booklet, CD and other multimedia resources during the course. Web research resources are also utilised.

The course makes use of WebBoard conferencing software for discussion. Students can enter conferences on specific topics at every stage of their assignments, thus integrating tutor and peer guidance and feedback.

Intended capabilities to be developed

  • Ability to conducting historical research of a high quality.
  • Ability to analyse opportunities and identify methodologies required for studying data appropriately
  • Scholarship
  • Ability to design effective procedures and methodologies for historical research.

This is an enabling course whose purpose is to help students improve their historical skills to the point that they become proficient and confident. Students learnt to think historically. They also learnt specific research skills, ranging from identification and analysis of sources to the construction and analysis of historical databases.

A full case study account of the approaches and evaluation can be found on the TELRI web site along with contact details for the TELRI project team.

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