söndag 20 oktober 2013

Feedback and quality (and students' theses)

Back in November last year, I wrote a blog post about a short "best practices" article that me and my colleagues Björn Hedin and Stefan Hrastinski had submitted to the open-access journal "Högre Utbildning" ("Higher Education"). While the article itself was short, it had a pretty long and descriptive title; "Using group supervision and social annotation systems to support students' academic writing". In a blog post that I posted before the summer, I also mentioned that the article had been accepted and indeed had just been published online. Here is direct link to that article - I actually think it's pretty good.

Since Björn is such a well-connected person and since he has done quite a lot of practical work in the area of technology-enhanced learning (TEL), he has apparently been tagged as having done "interesting work" in the area and got an "invitation" to apply for money to further develop some of his "digital learning resources" a month ago.

Björn, me and Stefan have thus worked on a small application that would take our bachelor's thesis course (DM129X) and our students' academic writing to the next level in a small pedagogical project that is a direct continuation of the work we described in our HU article (above). We submitted an application in the beginning of the week and the application is called "Social annotation systems and formative peer feedback for bachelors' theses".

The idea is to spend the remainder of this year (2013) conducting workshops, summarizing, analyzing and preparing teaching materials for the spring. During the spring term we would implement an ambition plan to make our bachelors' theses projects better by educating the (around 50-60) students, their (around 6-8) advisors and to some extent also the (around 3-4) examiners in the course to give and to make better use of feedback during the whole process of producing these theses. An important point in our application is also the dissemination of the results to other educational programs at KTH. Our work would of course also result in a text/academic article of some kind.

We have asked for money to fund 70 hours of the examiners' time, 45 hours of the advisors time and 280 hours of Björn, mine and Stefan's time (to do the actual work in the project). For different reasons, I might be interested in working as much as possible in this project, so if we do get our application granted, I can imagine spending upwards to 10-20% of my time in this project for half a year (mainly during the spring term).

I am once more amazed by how fast it is possible to whip together a well-thought out project and an application with the right people, with the right organization and with the right work process. We haven't worked on the application for a very long time (Björn did the heavy lifting and put most of the time into it), but we have worked really effectively and managed to put together a proposal I hope will be very attractive to fund.

Having now handed it it, we wait for the verdict. It's just like in the military, "hurry up and wait".

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