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@2006 Ed Gallagher, Professor of English, Lehigh Lab Fellow. Lehigh University.
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Student Participation Profiles

Here I break some of the students into three groups (top, middle, bottom) based on my assessment of their discussion board work.  My annotations of student work on the rest of the web site are what I might call “vertical.”  I start with individual posts and follow discussion threads “down” from beginning to end and focus on interchanges.  

The profiles of participation here, however, are “horizontal” – I cut across the course following the performance of some individual students, with citations to other sections of this web site (a citation like 6.2, for instance, means survey 2-student work2) where the evidence for my points can be found.

My experience is that anatomizing discussion in this way has taken me closer to the bone of student learning than ever before.  I do in fact believe that having this broad number of discussion board posts to draw on enables me to see “into” students better than I ever have before.  The profiles here are an indication of that, and, while in this form they are more notes to myself than to the students, they provide the basis for my evaluative comments to and conversations with them.

Top Group

Student B: "My feeling is that B -- always one of the best minds in the class -- modified his discussion behavior in a quite positive direction as the class went on and ended up a more valuable member of the community."

Student J: "He’s the kind of student you’d like to take credit for but realize that he was so damn good from start to finish that maybe you didn’t teach him anything but just gave him the opportunity to shine."

Student L: "The most distinctive feature of Student L’s discussion board performance was that she consciously changed her style of writing from 'essayish' to 'postish' as she absorbed the goals of the project. . . . Here was a gifted writer who, however, knew only one way to write yet went on to practice many different ways of writing socially."

Middle Group

Student G: " It was her lack of confidence, tentative manner, and sometimes awkward expression that put her in the second tier of posters in the class."

Student P: "When '[P's] head was in the game,' you’d get some wild stuff, but when it wasn’t he was stone cold.  He was kind of a risky person to be in a group with.  You’d never know what you were going to get.  He was not a dependable conversationalist."

Student R: "R is always solid, always workman-like.  He has the mechanics down.  The trouble is that he’s not always successful.  He heads in the right direction but doesn’t quite get there."
Bottom Group
Student A: "Student A never got on message and served as my reminder that we live in a fallen world."

Student F: "Student F was, in fact, a consummate agree-er.  That, above all else, is what marks her as one of the weakest discussion students."

Student N: "He knows things, his mind percolates, he shows energy at times, but he was undisciplined and unfocused and unconnected.  Even his best interchange is an intriguing but perplexing combination of the fun house and roller-coaster for his partner."