Teaching and Learning in a Net-Centric World
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  1. Shane Dawson Shane Dawson
    November 10, 2008    

    An interesting article Terry thank you.
    The low response rate for online courses is one reason why UBC (Canada) and insitutions in Australia (QUT and UoW) are investigating alternate evaluation methodologies. This has included the investigation of ICT data dervied from student online activity. We (UBC, QUT and UoW) have been working on the application of student data derived from interactions with the institutional LMS e.g. BlackBoard or Vista to inform and evaluate teaching practice. The research to date has established some interesting predictors of student academic performance – discussion posts, student networks, time online, frequency of sessions, etc. all provide an early indication of future student performance. Thus, this data can be readily and easily integrated to identify early signs of “at-risk” students requiring additional learning support or to evaluate the impact of learning activities. Additionally, the visualisation of this data assists teaching staff in making proactive and informed decisions regarding redesign of learning activities, support interventions and the overall curriculum. (The graphical rerpresentation of student and staff networks – sociograms has been very powerful). The aggregation of the LMS data can also inform senior management of adoption rates of various tools, and differences in faculty school and course teaching approaches. This data can then be correlated with other insitutional standardised evaluations e.g NSSE, student satisfaction or in Australia the CEQ to provide a rich picture of overall teaching performance from an insitutional perspective.

    This research and prior work by Cath Finnegan, John Campbell and others has aimed to develop a suite of data-mining tools and resources that can assist teaching and management staff in benchmarking performance and evaluate the impact of implemented learning and teaching activities in a just-in-time manner. Perhaps for online courses the standardised survey may no longer be required? Or at least, less dominant in the types of tools used to evaluate our teaching practice.

    I am more than happy to forward some resources regarding this work if interested


  2. November 11, 2008    

    Hi Terry,
    Interesting post that feels current to the times of more openness or disclosure, and perhaps more vulnerability of professors and instructors as in “RateMyProfessor”.

    I think the cross comparison for institutions by more standardized questions could be difficult but also worthwhile.

    As a student at AU — I have always filled out the questionnaire, but I often thought if people are busy, what is the incentive — especially if it is an “altruistic” act and the student does not really know if it will matter. Significant acts are more likely to feel worthwhile doing.

    Jo Ann

  3. November 18, 2008    

    I mentioned this post to my partner, who works at a business school that specialises in distance education. She said they also suffer from low online feedback return rates. Here are a couple of the reasons given:

    1) No true anonymity, they really left that the survey could be traced back to them
    2) Too many questions
    3) Not the correct questions, they were too quantitative rather than qualitative

    It was suggested by the students that a better approach might be to set up a sample group and monitor them throughout the duration of the course.


  4. April 26, 2010    

    Any time you have to coerce someone to participate 9whether through bribery or waterboarding) it’s not worth the effort and the information is suspect.

    Students shouldn’t rate teachers anyway – – most students don’t have a well developed sense of their own self – how are they then fit to judge the performance of a teacher or even a course?

    I’m all for getting information surreptitiously – embed questions into the course to elicit the information or responses you need by cloaking the request as an opportunity to respond.

    People love to give their opinion, as long as they don’t feel that it is a requirement but an opportunity to express themselves. Here’s a platform – give me your opinion . . .

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