#LAK15 Becoming strategic writers

Ge Vue and Tracey Hall

Purpose to teach middle school students how to become effective writers through web based learning tools. Needing to integrate writing elements, such as making statements, cognitive strategies and affective strategies. Designed a visualisation dashboard to give feedback to students. Qus asked: could students and teachers make sense of the visualisations and which did they find meaningful? How do student and teachers use student information to improve teaching and learning? Enhancing feedback as an instructional strategy to improve knowledge of writing elements, strategies for writing and the quality of the writing. Can we visualise student writing in a way that supports feedback which leads to an improvement? 

Built in 3 different spaces for students to practice: (1) a playground to allow students to try out writing different types of activities and writing aspects to focus on, eg writing a claim with supporting reasons. Students could also set the difficulty of the exercise and had access to knowledge cards to support their understanding; (2) ? and (3) progress monitoring  – a phased prompt to do a specific short activity targeted at an individual student. The activity gets scored by a teacher and the student gets feedback.

Visualisation needs to have some specific detail in order to be useful. Teachers are getting live view of students writing their assignments and these can be shared and critiqued with other students in the group. Students encouraged to share their work and discuss with other peers. Student log data also collected on student id, the event type that they are engaging with, what actions they took, resources used, actual text written, etc. Use Tableau software to offer back a visualisation of what students were doing. Simple visuals seemed to be preferred. Prompts used to trigger remedial actions and to encourage students to try a number of different strategies until they find one that works for them. A greater focus on the process rather than just the content and how this might impact on students’ actual writing.

About sharonslade

Dr Sharon Slade is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Law at the Open University in the UK working to support both tutors and students on Open University distance learning modules and programmes. Her research interests encompass ethical issues in learning analytics and online learning and tuition. Project work includes the development of a student support framework to improve retention and progression and the development of a university wide tool for tracking students and triggering relevant and targeted interventions. She led the development of new policy around the ethical use of learning analytics within the Open University, UK.
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