Past student voices : providing authentic collaborative descriptions

Ryan, Michael (2007) Past student voices : providing authentic collaborative descriptions. International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning, 3(3), pp. 23-34.

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The use of collaboratively produced assignments for assessment is a risky undertaking for both students and course designers, especially in higher education. Yet the benefits, in terms of graduate capabilities, collaborative sense making and student involvement, suggest that the effort is worthwhile. Among the critical elements for the design of a collaborative assignment (such as a Web Inquiry Project) are clearly expressed expectations and considerable scaffolding of the task. However, formal descriptions and rules do little to ameliorate the perception of risk and increased anxiety by students. This paper reports on a longitudinal design experiment that was conducted in a large first-year university course. The study included past students who provided informal and authentic advice for present students as they were engaged in a collaborative assignment. Thus, through mediated communication channels (such as video interviews, cameo appearances and online forums), the past students provided voices that complemented the course designer's formal descriptions. Analysis of the conversations between the past and present students reveals them to be simultaneously rich, functional and reflective. In particular, the past students forum grew into a multi-threaded, complex set of conversations that covered a substantial set of topics and concerns for the current students. It proved functional because it promoted confidence, had immediate application and was clearly expressed for these students. And because the forum remained as a persistent record, it provided the basis for reflective thinking about the task and how it might be approached. As a technique that is relatively easy to set up, using a simple online forum along with considerate and able past students, the method described has immediate practical application.

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ID Code: 14534
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: collaborative learning, higher education, pedagogy, HERN
ISSN: 1833-4105
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Educational Technology and Computing (130306)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 Michael Ryan
Deposited On: 26 Aug 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:34

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