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@2006 Ed Gallagher, Professor of English, Lehigh Lab Fellow. Lehigh University.
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In this first survey given during the first week of class, I was trying to get a sense of who the students were, what their prior experience with discussion boards was, and what they thought about some of the key aspects of the project before we began.

The Prompt:

Here are a few questions about any previous discussion board experience you have had.  Please answer all the questions in as much specific detail as you can.  If you have had no experience with discussion boards, there are still several general questions you can answer.

The Questions:

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

1)  Have you used a discussion board (conference board) in college-level classes?

If you have not used a discussion board, skip to question 11.

2)  In what course(s) did you use it?  If you used discussion boards in more than one course, you can pick one on which to focus in the following questions or compare courses in your answer.

3)  How was it used?  How did the teacher articulate the goal, purpose, or function of the discussion board?  Why were you using the boards?

4)  How often was it used?

5)  Did the teacher give examples of appropriate posts or in some other way model the kind of responses he or she sought?  Explain.

6)  How much grade or value was put on discussion board work?

7)  How would you describe your work on the discussion boards, both in terms of quantity and quality?

8)  Do you feel reading the posts of others was a benefit?  Explain.

9)  Do you think the discussion board added value to the learning in the course?  Explain.

10)  Is there anything else you would like to say about discussion boards?  For instance, was there an important question or area not touched on above?

11)  Think of the best college course you've had.  What made it so?

12)  In general, what role, if any, do you think other students have in your own learning process?

13)  To conclude, please specify and elaborate on an analogy or metaphor for college that is especially meaningful to you.  In class today, I indicated that for me college should be a "learning community."  What would you say?  How would you fill in this blank:  College is a __________.  Be as descriptive as you can: college is a prison, college is a picnic, etc.  To help -- if, for instance, I asked you this past weekend to fill in the blank in this sentence, what would you say: "Returning to college is like going to ________." Be sure to elaborate on the reason for your choice.