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@2006 Ed Gallagher, Professor of English, Lehigh Lab Fellow. Lehigh University.
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This seventh survey was given in week 11, the "meta-week" after the fifth unit in the course, on Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.  In week 10 on Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl the students were divided into even smaller groups of 2 or 3 (the smallest in the course) because we were now doing a 4-step interchange -- adding the "volley1."  Because of the longer interchange and the longer time interval necessary for people to post four times, there were only two posting cycles this unit instead of the usual three.  For each of the two posting cycles, the students were asked to perform these four steps: serve to your group members, return the serves of your group members, field the returns to your serve by group members, and "volley" back to the fielded returns you receive from your group members.  A student in a group of 3 was responsible for 7 posts per cycle (1 serve, 2 returns to the serves of the other 3 group members, 2 fieldings of the returns from group members to his or her serve, 2 vollies back of the fielded returns from the group members) = 14 posts per week.  In addition, students were prompted  to  take extra time and care to write with a sense of wide community, that is, 1) to read whatever serves in your group are on the board before you serve and then offer a different approach in your serve, and 2) before you return, field, and volley, to read all the posts in your group that are on the board and to "weave" ideas from others into your post if possible.

The Prompt :

In unit 4 with the three-step sequence of serve/return/field the return, you were moving toward “conversation.”  Here in unit 5 with the addition of the notion of “volleying” as a fourth step, you are squarely in what can be legitimately called conversation.  In these longer interchanges, effective serving and mastery of a variety of response options seem even more important, so, in preparation for this survey, please review the five-eyes and response option documents in Course Documents.  For the purpose of this survey, focus only on the “Jacobs #1 (11/3-6)” postings.  As usual, you might want to open multiple screens so that you can refer back and forth among the survey, the documents, and the discussion board.  The purpose of this exercise is to raise consciousness about how to make long interchanges possible and productive – aiming, as always in our course, at the goal of improving contributions to group knowledge. 

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)  Please name the one or two other people who were in your group.

2)  Use the “Jacobs #1 (11/3-6)” forum postings for your responses to all questions in this survey.  Look at the date and time of the serves by you and your other group members.  List the serves in chronological order.  Who served first, who second, who third?  

3)  Describe – using the “five eyes” or some other labeling – the nature of each of those serves (including your own).  What kind was first, second, third?  

4)  Would you say that there was a variety among the serves in your group or not?  Explain.  If there was not variety, why wasn’t there, and what could have been done to achieve it?  

5)  In the instructions to this unit you were asked to “read whatever serves in your group are on the board before you serve and then offer a different approach in your serve.”  Did you read the other serves (if any – you may have been the first server, of course) before you served?  If not, what was the reason?  

6)  If you read the other serves before you served, what went through your mind as you thought about your serve?  Did you consciously try to make a different kind of serve?  If so, how did you do that?  Did you use the “five eyes” or some other method?  

7)  Look at the interchanges initiated by your serve with each of your group members.  Did those interchanges each go through the full cycle?  (Full cycle in this unit: you serve, you receive a return from a group member, you field that return, the group member volleys back to you.)  Specify which did and which didn’t?  

8)  If you had an interchange initiated by your serve that went through the full cycle, look closely at each step and describe the sequence.  (If you had more than one full-cycle interchange, choose the one that has the most interesting things to talk about.)  What kind of serve did you make?  What kind of return did you receive?  How did you field the return? What was the nature of the volley shot back to you?  Expand your description wherever there is something interesting to say.  For instance, were some steps easy, some difficult?  Take your time here – try not to skimp in your descriptions.  

9)  Take a look at the description of the sequence you have just described in #8.  If you had it to do over again, is there a post that you would do differently?  If so, why?  If not, can you focus on one specific step in the interchange where either you posted and a group member responded or you responded to a group member and explain why you think your post worked or was best in that instance?  

10)  In the instructions to this unit you were asked before each post in the sequence to “read all the posts in your group that are on the board and then consciously try to ‘weave’ the ideas of and the ideas stimulated by others into your posts where possible and where appropriate.”  Did you read all the posts on the board in your group before you posted at each step?  If you didn’t, what was the reason?  If you did, did you do any “weaving” in your own posts?  If so, please specify where.  If not, can you say why?  

11)  Still using this same complete interchange as your point of reference, would you say your thinking and/or group thinking was more advanced at the end than it was in the beginning?  Was the group activity worthwhile in this instance?  Did you or others get something out of it?  If yes, what and why?  If no, why not, and was there something you or the others could have done to make the experience more valuable?  

12)  If you had an interchange initiated by your serve that did not go through the full cycle, where did it break down and why?  

13)  If you were responsible for an incomplete interchange, what was the reason?  Did the reason have to do with your uncertainty about how to respond or something else?  Did you provide a reason for your absence to your group members?  If not, why not?   

14)  If a group member was responsible for the incomplete interchange, did he or she provide a reason?  If so, what was the reason?  If no reason was provided, how did you feel about that?  Did you prompt a group member to make a response?  If not, why not?  

15)  Do you sense any difference in how you posted or how you felt about posting in this unit that has the extra volleying step?  Is the longer sequence basically the same or different for all intents and purposes than the shorter sequences?  Is there added value or the potential for added value to longer interchanges?  Explain.  

16)  The second wave of posting in this unit (Jacobs #2) got off to a very slow start and may not, in fact, finish.  What do you see as the reason or reasons for this fall off in participation and/or for the slower response time?

17) Is there any other comment that you would like to make about our current focus on reaching a volleying stage?