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@2006 Ed Gallagher, Professor of English, Lehigh Lab Fellow. Lehigh University.
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It's time for a case study, for a more comprehensive look at student work in the system I'm exploring.  We are half-way through the course, so that the students now have had reasonable exposure to and experience with my general goals for this project as specifically implemented in the five eyes and the response options.

In addition, here half-way through the course we have moved to a three-step interaction process, the first time we can reasonably speak of the postings as "discussion" or "conversation."  As I sensed from survey 1 and from general anecdotal information, most teachers use the discussion board for an individual post or a one post/one response interaction -- closer, in my opinion, to a bulletin board rather than a discussion board.  I am aiming in this course to push the interchange to at least four steps.  Real discussion.  Real conversation.  More hang time.

So, it's time for a case study.  

I picked a unit 4 group at random.  I'm going to concentrate on a group of three (Students F, B, P) and follow them slowly and painstakingly through the 3-step process of serving, returning, and fielding returns. 

F was consistently one of the weakest posters, and I would characterize her as among the 3-4 weakest students in the class.  B was one of the top 4-5 in the class -- outgoing, opinionated (not in a bad sense), aggressive, forceful.  He very often led in-class discussion, and his ideas quite often predominated.  The others seemed to see him as a leader in the class.  P was a potentially strong student, a senior English major, but very inconsistent.  He could have been a leader in class, perhaps, but he was not always "on" or "with it" and would be "invisible" for stretches.  He was not always a consistent poster, and the quality of his posts fluctuated as well.  So it turns out that this group represents a range of student levels in the class.

Student work documents 2 - 3 - 4 here are a case study of a group.  I'm going to proceed in what is perhaps pedestrian fashion for readers but in a fashion designed to slow me down to focus and think about each of the three steps and each individual post, but in a group context.  Thus, each of these three documents will be devoted, in turn, to one of the three steps for each student in the group: the serve, the returns, and the fielding of the returns.  I will reflect on almost every post in the group as each student moves to the fielding stage, the culmination in this unit.  I have, perhaps awkwardly for readers, repeated their posts at each step in the process in order to keep the rhythm of the interchanges as freshly in front of me as possible.

In contrast to this group emphasis, student work documents 5 and 6 will follow one student each through the 3-step process.