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@2006 Ed Gallagher, Professor of English, Lehigh Lab Fellow. Lehigh University.
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"FIELDING" RETURNS

This sixth survey was given in week 9, the "meta-week" after the fourth unit in the course, on Moby-Dick.  In week 8 on Moby-Dick the students were divided into smaller groups of 3 or 4 because of the extra posting step required.  For each of the three class days they were to serve, receive a return, then "field" that return back to their returner -- as well as return the serves of the others.  This is the first survey dealing with a 3-step interaction on each discussion thread: serve, receive a return, field that return.  A student in a group of 4 was responsible for 7 posts per class (1 serve, 3 returns to the serves of the other 3 group members, 3 fielding of the returns from group members to his or her serve) = 21 posts per week.

The Prompt :

Our mantra is “the art of writing on the discussion board is to keep the conversation going.”  In the just-finished unit 4 you were finally moving more toward “conversation” on the discussion board.  To recap: in unit 1 you simply served, in units 2 and 3 you served and returned, and now in unit 4 you served, returned, and “fielded” returns on each of three days (Oct 20, 22, 24).  Therefore, while keeping sight on the strategies of serving and returning, I’d like you to focus mostly on how you fielded the returns from your group members.  I’d like especially to see if in your fielding you used any of the response options I have identified for you or if you can identify other options.  So, in preparation for this survey, please review the response option document in Course Documents.  As usual, you might want to open multiple screens so that you can refer back and forth among the survey, the response option document, and the discussion board.  The purpose of this exercise is to raise consciousness about how to make multiple interchanges productive – aiming, as always in our course, at the goal of improving contributions to group knowledge. 

 
The Questions:

(click here for a summary of all student responses as well as my commentary, or click on the numbers below for the summary and commentary on the specific questions )

1)  How many other people were in your group?  List their names.

2)  If you served each day, you made 3 serves this unit.  Look at your serves in this unit.  Did you do anything different in your serves this time since you knew you would be fielding returns to them?  Please identify at least one of your serves (give date and title), and use it as an example of a serve in which you did either something different from or the same as serves in past units.  Describe what you did and why

3)  Depending on how many people were in your group and how many served on a given day, you may have made 2 or 3 returns each day.  Think in general about your returns in this unit.  Did you do anything different in the returns you made this time since you knew the server would be fielding your return?  Please identify at least one of the returns you made (give date and title), and use it as an example of a return in which you did either something different from or the same as returns in past units.  Describe what you did and why.

4)  A complete interchange in this unit consists of 1) your serve, 2) returns from your two or three group members, and 3) your fielding the returns from those group members.   Pick one example of a complete interchange in this unit (give the date and title of your serve) to examine.  First, describe as specifically as you can the returns from each group member to your serve.  What were the strategies of each return?  Cite your group members by name.  Viewed as a whole, how were the returns you received either the same or different?   In other words, did you receive a variety of returns?

5)  Using the same complete interchange, describe the way you fielded the returns.  In each case, what did you do?  Cite your group members by name. 

6)  Above in #5 you described “what” you did when fielding returns.  Now, how did you “feel” about these returns that you fielded?  Did you feel more engaged in fielding some of the responses than others?  Were some more valuable than the others?  Were some more effective in stimulating your response?  How would you rank the returns in terms of the goal of keeping the conversation going?  Please be specific.  Cite your group members by name.

7)  Still using this same complete interchange, would you say your thinking and/or group thinking was more advanced at the end than it was in the beginning?  Was the group activity worthwhile in this instance?  Did you or others get something out of it?  If yes, what and why?  If no, why not, and was there something you or the others could have done to make the experience more valuable? 

8)  After reviewing your group’s work over the whole unit, can you point to examples of such higher level types of response options as weaving and re-thinking.  Please specify if you can (give dates and titles).  If not, can you suggest ways to stimulate such activity?  If, that is, you agree that what I have called higher level responses are indeed higher.

9)  Is there any other comment that you would like to make about our current focus on fielding returns? 

10)  On another topic: We’ve noted that there are significantly fewer posts on the third day of the unit than the first and second.  What do you see as the reason or reasons for this fall off in participation?