The project aimed to evaluate the use of blogs across a number of units in the SPS department with a view to enhancing existing practice, by carrying out a detailed assessment of how students’ learning can be enhanced by blogs, and by identifying any barriers to their effective use. The project showed that students in general found the approach useful, because it helped them to clarify their thoughts on a topic, develop a critical voice, and experience writing in a different style and audience. The key lessons in terms of incorporating this approach were to maximise opportunities for teacher/peer feedback and ensuring that the rationale was clearly explained. There was considerable differences in terms of students’ motivation. While some students were keen that blog-related exercises were graded, others particularly enjoyed the freedom and scope for experimentation that came when these exercises were not formally assessed. The findings of this evaluation will be disseminated through a set of practical guidelines to encourage the wider use of this teaching method across the university and an academic article.
Dr Oliver Walton (Social & Policy Sciences): email@example.com
Gihan Ismael (Education)
- The findings have confirmed the usefulness of this approach and have encouraged the project leader and hopefully others in the SPS department to incorporate it into their teaching. The blogs seem to work best when the unit convener is fully engaged and committed to using the method, and where the rationale is clearly explained.
- The findings have led to a few modifications in the use of blogs within the units that were evaluated. These include ensuring the unit conveners clearly explain the rationale for the blog exercise at the start of the semester; that as far as possible the demands of the blog don’t overlap with other assignment deadlines (e.g. blog done at the start of the semester); providing good examples if the exercises are assessed to ensure that students know what they should be aiming for. The project also highlighted the benefits of making this a collaborative exercise, or linking individual blog posts clearly to seminars (e.g. making it a requirement for students to present their key findings in a subsequent seminar).
- A set of practical guidelines, detailing some of the benefits of using blogs in teaching and some practical tips on different ways they can be integrated into existing teaching: Guidelines for using blogs in higher education teaching -6 tips
- An academic article, sharing the findings of the project to a wider academic/practitioner audience (to be submitted to a journal by March 2017).