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@2006 Ed Gallagher, Professor of English, Lehigh Lab Fellow. Lehigh University.
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This eighth survey was given in week 14, at the end of the course.  In unit 6 (weeks 12-13) on The Scarlet Letter I introduced the 5-step "volley 2" stage: serve, return, field the return, volley1, volley2.  I put the students in pairs for more focused work and asked the first one to serve.  Because of the longer interchange and the care I wished them to give to each step, the students were told to take a week to complete the five steps but to pace themselves for best results.  Students were encouraged to read any and all posts on the board but to  post only with their partner.  Thus, there were to be five posts altogether -- the server doing 3, the returner 2.  At this point in the course, however, I got overrun with other commitments and responsibilities and did not give a survey on this specific stage.  I had planned to spend two units on this culminating 5-step stage, but, again, other commitments and responsibilities intervened, and in unit 7 (week 14) on Huckleberry Finn there was no discussion board at all.  This survey 8, then, was the wrap-up assignment for the course (including several questions on the Talk Radio part of the discussion board).  The eleven documents of student work accompanying the survey results in this section, with examples from every student, however, contain lots information about the 5-step volley2 stage.

The Prompt :

The title says it all.  Our several-step journey in discussion board experimentation is over.  One of the key goals in the course was to develop practical skills, especially the art of online discussion (and, in fact, discussion in general).  In line with that goal, we have had a significant meta-analysis track.  Now is the time to put an enda to the meta!  You should review the five eyes, response options, and qualities of a good poster documents before or as you do the survey.  As usual, you might want to open multiple screens so that you can refer back and forth between the survey and the documents.  The purpose of this survey is to invite you one final time to help me think seriously about the nature and purpose of discussion boards.  Your experience, your feedback is essential to my understanding.

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)  Was the “five eyes” document helpful in thinking about the kinds of posts that you can make?   Why or why not?  Please elaborate as much as you can.

2)  Was the “response options” document helpful in thinking about the kinds of posts that you can make?   Why or why not?  Please elaborate as much as you can.

3)  Was the racquetball analogy (serve, return, volley, etc.) helpful in thinking about the nature of interaction on the discussion board?  Why or why not?  Please elaborate as much as you can.

4)  If you used the discussion board in previous classes, do a comparison.  How was what you did here the same or different?  How more valuable or less valuable?  How more helpful in learning or not?  Please elaborate as much as you can.

5) Think about your discussion posts at the beginning of the course and at the end.  Are you a better poster now?  The same?  Different?   Why?  Please elaborate as much as you can.

6)  Discussion was the main learning activity in the course.  How do you feel about not having quizzes, tests, or essays?  Do you feel discussion helped you learn sufficiently?  Or do you feel you learn better through these more traditional learning activities?  Would you have gotten more out of the course if there had been quizzes, tests, essays?  Please elaborate as much as you can.

7)  Think about the Talk Radio element in the course for the next several items.  In your own words explain what you understood as the purpose or goal of this part of the course.

8)  How would you describe your participation on Talk Radio?

9)  What topic or topics do you remember as working well and why?

10)  Describe how you approached your role as host on Talk Radio.

11)  What was your reaction to the responses you received to your Talk Radio hosting?

12)  Would you recommend that Talk Radio continue as part of a course activity?  Or that it be changed?  That it be dropped?  That it be replaced by something else designed to achieve the same goal?

13)  On the final Talk Radio segment, Jaime’s original post about selecting 5 albums to take on a deserted island evolved into picking favorite movies and finally to Tom’s invitation to think about people you would take.  Let me go that one step further.  What 5 people in the class would you choose to work with you on a major class research project?  And why?

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

15)  The goal of this course was to be a learning community, a course in which students worked actively together.  Community is not a goal in many courses, nor is it easy to achieve.  What would you say is the biggest obstacle or problem in making a class a community?

16)  Do you think there was a sense of community in the class?  Can you give specific examples of how there was or wasn’t?

17)  Tne essential for vigorous discussion that is the heart of a community is the active “presence” (in quotes to distinguish it from mere attendance) of class members.  Take a look at the list of criteria for active presence in the “Qualities of a Good Poster” document in Course Documents.  Is there anything you would add or subtract to that list?  In other words, if you had to judge whether or not a class member is “present” or not, how would you do it?

18)  What is your assessment of your own “presence” in this class?  In the “Qualities of a Good Poster” document I ask three related questions: Did you actively contribute to creating an atmosphere conducive to better learning by all?  Did you help others do their best work?  Was the class better because you were in it?  Use these questions and/or items in the list of good qualities to assess your own “presence”?  Be specific.  What role did you play in the attempt to create class community?  Give reasons and/or examples to back up your self-evaluation.

19)  Is there anything else that you would like to comment on?