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@2006 Ed Gallagher, Professor of English, Lehigh Lab Fellow. Lehigh University.
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THE "SERVE"

This second survey was given in week 3, the "meta-week" after the first unit in the course, on The Awakening.  In week 2 the students were responsible for three posts -- one for each class day -- and for reading all the other posts. These were their first posts in the course.  

In week 1 I presented the "five eyes" inevitably very briefly as examples of different ways to initiate discussion to foster a variety of perspectives (via lecture, we had no specific model posts at this time), but students were not specifically required to adopt this approach, and I was under no illusion that they had a firm grasp of this approach.  We discussed the novel in thirds during week 2, and I did suggest that the content of their posts relate to each day's focus.

The primary purpose of this survey was to capture some of student thinking and practice associated with "serving," that is, making a first or lead-off post in a discussion.  In particular, question 12 was designed to get them thinking about their own ideas about the qualities of a good post.  I immediately compiled the responses to question 12 in a handout and used it as the basis for a full class discussion during the "meta-week" in order to try to raise their consciousness about what their peers felt made posts effective.

The Prompt:

Your thoughtful responses are much appreciated here to a few questions about the first discussion board posts on 8/29 (or later for some of you). Remember that in this first unit I asked you to post, and read the posts of others, but not to respond. Think of that first post as a "serve" in a game of tennis or racquetball, etc. You were "serving" an idea of your own for others to field.

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 of the first three posts did you do (8/29, 9/1, and 9/3)?  If you did not post all three days, why didn't you?

2)  Try to recover your frame of mind on your first post, whether that be 8/29, 9/1, or 9/3. This and the next few questions are about your first post.  How did you feel about doing the first post?

3)  What did you think your purpose was in doing the post?

4)  Where did the idea for what to post about come from?  Can you reconstruct your thinking process a bit?  Did you refer to the "five eyes" document for this post or any of the subsequent ones?

5)  Did you choose between two or more options before writing?

6)  Who did you envision as your audience?  Did that have any effect on what you chose to write about or the style in which you wrote your post?

7)  How did you feel after writing the post?  How do you feel about it now?

8)  Now a coupla questions about the posts of others on 8/29.  How many of the 8/29 posts of others did you read?

9)  If you didn't read all the 8/29 posts, how did you decide which ones to read?

10)  If you didn't read any 8/29 posts, why?

11)  If you read some or all of the 8/29 posts, did you find value in doing so.  Why?  Why not?

12)  Please re-read or read all the 8/29 posts.  Pick out the one that you think of as the best (ok, you can list some honorable mentions if you wish).  A) Give the writer's name and the title of the post.  B) Why were you attracted to the post?  C) Can you identify the strategy the writer used to get your attention?