Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Facebook Addiction

Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale

Andreassen, C.S., Torsheim, T., Brunborg, G.S., & Pallesen, S. (2012) Development of a Facebook addiction scale 1, 2. Psychological Reports, 110(2), 501-517
The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS), initially a pool of 18 items, three reflecting each of the six core elements of addiction (salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, and relapse), was constructed and administered to 423 students together with several other standardized self-report scales (Addictive Tendencies Scale, Online Sociability Scale, Facebook Attitude Scale, NEO–FFI, BIS/BAS scales, and Sleep questions). That item within each of the six addiction elements with the highest corrected item-total correlation was retained in the final scale. The factor structure of the scale was good (RMSEA = .046, CFI = .99) and coefficient alpha was .83. The 3-week test-retest reliability coefficient was .82. The scores converged with scores for other scales of Facebook activity. Also, they were positively related to Neuroticism and Extraversion, and negatively related to Conscientiousness. High scores on the new scale were associated with delayed bedtimes and rising times.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The 3 P's of Good Feedback

Butterfly Yet another paper about feedback in higher education - because it's still one of the major problems.

This fairly low-power study uses a budgeting methodology to ask what students value, in other words gives them a notional budget and ask them how they would spend it.
For "Lecturer qualities", Good feedback comes top, Interactive lecturing style bottom. So all those years of being told to be interactive in lectures don't mean much - students want your boring PowerPoints (and to know what's in the exam).
For "Feedback information" Highlights the skills I need to improve for future assignments is top and Corrects grammatical errors is bottom.

For me however the most striking message from this paper is an almost throwaway comment in the Introduction on what students want from feedback:
  • Prompt - fair enough, although I suspect that for students prompt means 21 seconds or 21 minutes after submission, not 21 days.
  • Personal - group feedback for that class of over 300 is a stopgap which really isn't going to satisfy demand.
  • Positive - it doesn't matter if they can't write (in spite of what employers say), you can only engage them if you give them good news quickly.

Winstone, N.E., Nash, R.A., Rowntree, J., & Menezes, R. (2015) What do students want most from written feedback information? Distinguishing necessities from luxuries using a budgeting methodology. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 20 Aug 2015 doi: 10.1080/02602938.2015.1075956
Feedback is a key concern for higher education practitioners, yet there is little evidence concerning the aspects of assessment feedback information that higher education students prioritise when their lecturers' time and resources are stretched. One recent study found that, in such circumstances, students actually perceive feedback information itself as a luxury rather than a necessity. We first re-examined that finding by asking undergraduates to "purchase" characteristics to create the ideal lecturer, using budgets of differing sizes to distinguish necessities from luxuries. Contrary to the earlier research, students in fact considered good feedback information the single biggest necessity for lecturers to demonstrate. In a second study, we used the same method to examine the characteristics of feedback information that students value most. Here, the most important perceived necessity was guidance on improvement of skills. In both studies, students? priorities were influenced by their individual approaches to learning. These findings permit a more pragmatic approach to building student satisfaction in spite of growing expectations and demands.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Assessment and feedback - what do students want?

Ray os sunshine We have moved to online marking (mostly via Turnitin) substantively over the last 18 months. In reality, it's probably the only way we could cope with numbers of students we have. But what do students think of this change? We don't know (because we haven't asked them, although they have not complained). Has this change helped with the NSS feedback question? (No.) This new paper addresses some of these questions and comes up with some interesting findings.

Individual students like or dislike online marking - individual preferences are negatively correlated. That means that as a population, students are broadly neutral, which has been our experience.

On the question of feedback, the findings are more interesting. Students who like online marking tend to view it as a gateway to staff contact - the start of a conversation. This is problematic because online assessment is primarily seen by staff as a file and forget exercise. So even with the students who are pro-online marking, we are not meeting their expectations. But most importantly of all - STUDENTS HATE NEGATIVE FEEDBACK ... which explains the NSS results.
"We suggest that markers should consider developing a small bank of brief but positive comments (for example “nicely written” “good argument” ) that can be readily added to the assignment in the place of the ticks that might have been given on a traditionally submitted assignment. Appropriate positive comments specific to particular sections of the assignment could then easily be added to a pdf (through annotation), word document (in a comment box), or included in the suite of QuickMarks used in submission services such as Turnitin. These recommendations notwithstanding, we also advocate that university budget centres acknowledge that although online marking has many benefits, relative to offline marking, more time will be needed by markers if students are to receive appropriate positive feedback on their work, and for the benefits of online assignments to be fully realised."

Assignments 2.0: The Role of Social Presence and Computer Attitudes in Student Preferences for Online versus Offline Marking. The Internet and Higher Education, 8 August 2015. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2015.08.002
This study provided the first empirical and direct comparison of preferences for online versus offline assignment marking in higher education. University students (N= 140) reported their attitudes towards assignment marking and feedback both online and offline, perceptions of social presence in each modality, and attitudes towards computers. The students also ranked their preferences for receiving feedback in terms of three binary characteristics: modality (online or offline), valence (positive or negative), and scope of feedback (general or specific). Although attitudes towards online and offline marking did not significantly differ, positive attitudes toward one modality were strongly correlated with negative attitudes toward the other modality. Greater perceptions of social presence within a modality were associated with more positive attitudes towards that modality. Binary characteristics were roughly equally weighted. Findings suggest that the online feedback modality will most effectively maximise student engagement if online assignment marking and feedback tools facilitate perceptions of social presence.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Hello World

Hello World
As of today I am no longer a member of the Department of Biology (which doesn't exist any more), I am now a member of the Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour.

What does that mean? Well I am still a member of the School of Biological Sciences and of the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology, so in the short term, it doesn't mean as much as you might think. In the medium term, we are under new management, and in the long term ... well, what does anyone know of the long term?

But as of today, Hello World.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

#Google+Pivot - what went wrong?

Google+ Google introduced yet another social network that no-one (except Google) really needed.

But Google+ was too complicated rather than following the simple design that won Google its prominence.

Google forgot how to be Google.

Sic transit gloria mundi.


Open education: the need for a critical approach

Open access One agrees with the following:
"Crucially, the field has lacked coherent definitions of ‘open’, and too often tended towards optimism, advocacy, and conviction, rather than a critical understanding of what openness might mean for education. Moreover, it is the vagaries of the term itself that have allowed it to be attached to other ideas so readily: to notions of self-directed learning and cohesive community interaction; and to technology and the presumed capacities of the digital networks that enable educational activity to take place. In these ways, ‘open’ has too often accounted for the assumed ease with which educational hierarchies can be horizontalised, and economic and geographic barriers can be dissolved. But more than this, openness has too often assumed that institutional structures, financial constraints, and distance are the only issues preventing the instinctive and effortless uptake of self-directed learning. It is precisely in this way that an uncritical championing of openness fails to adequately analyse educational closures.

Many approaches to open education have been guided by the assumption that students fall into a universal category of rational, self-directing, and highly motivated individuals. Much less common is the acknowledgement that openness reconfigures or maintains particular notions of learning, teaching, and human being; that it is involved in the production of our contemporary understanding of ourselves as educated and educating beings. Part of the appeal of openness has derived from its association with a broader restructuring of education around the idea of the ‘learner’. This ‘learnification’ (Biesta 2010) has tended to assume autonomous students, whose independent activity requires educational opportunity with instantly and universally accessible material, anytime admittance, and teachers who merely ‘facilitate’ the process. The assumption is that ‘we’ are naturally open, and for all this time it has been the institution that has disciplined us into being closed. However, this idea of openness relies too heavily on the logic of self-direction, and fails to engage with the de-emphasis of teacher contact, problematic forms of student isolation, the appropriation of academic labour, and a neglect of the social and political dimensions of an education that surfaces in globalised classrooms. Such openness is only a solution for the imagined autonomous subject, and is only imaginable where education is divorced from the complexities of culture, sociality, and the power of the political. Furthermore, the restructuring of the role of the teacher and the implicit de-professionalisation of teaching is overlooked in this drive for openness. The open education movement can at times seem worryingly amenable to forces of neoliberalism within the university."

Open education: the need for a critical approach. (2015) Learning, Media and Technology 40(3) doi: 10.1080/17439884.2015.1065272

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Returning to the problem of information literacy

Information literacy Since I started running "key skills" modules umptynine years ago, delivery of information literacy skills has been a constant concern. Leaving aside arcane discussions of what information literacy actually is, the realities of very large student numbers often forced me down the MCQ route, both because "If it's not (summatively) assessed it doesn't exist" and because of the impossible logistics of more appropriate alternatives.

Returning this week once again to the problem of information literacy delivery for the coming year, I turned to the research literature. The last time I did that I found it unhelpful because publications were dominated by arcane (unkindly: airy-fairy) discussion of the nature of academic literacies. This time around, by focusing my searches onto "information literacy" AND "science" (a spot of Boolean karma there), I came up with a more satisfactory outcome. Sifting of the literature in this restricted area now gives a more clear cut consensus on the best and possibly only solution: a pragmatic approach involving learning by doing - an authentic assessment apprenticeship model. Which unfortunately causes rather than solves a problem.

Numbers - that's the problem. If I had the luxury of delivering this content for half a dozen students on a single degree course, I'd have them write essays recursively until I knew they'd got it. Not viable with 400 students. So my alternative is ... peer assessment, either using the Blackboard Self and Peer Assessment tool or the Turnitin PeerMark system (comments on these welcome please). Which is fine, except it leads me into a discussion about formative versus summative assessment. Have students peer assess and only force completion by completion, or going down the hairy (and possibly unacceptable) route of having students summatively peer assess?

Information literacy assignment
1000 word Microsoft Word report on assigned topic:
  1. List and justify which keywords you used for your search (2 marks)
  2. List and justify which synonyms you used for your search (2 marks)
  3. List and justify which wildcards you used for your search (2 marks)
  4. List and justify which Boolean operators you used for your search (2 marks)
  5. Display search results (screenshots) from each of the following databases: PubMed, Google Scholar, WoK. (3 marks)
  6. Annotated Bibliography - list your choice of the 10 most relevant and important papers for your assigned topic - explaining why you chose each one. (10 marks)

I would really welcome your comments and insight on this.

Thompson, L, and Blankinship, L.A. (2015). Teaching Information Literacy Skills to Sophomore-Level Biology Majors. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, 16(1): 29. doi: 10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.818