Thursday, March 8, 2012

Grades and Reports Thread Summary

This week was both hard and easy. It was easy because I know how wikis work both on Moodle and on Pbworks or Wikispaces. It was hard because as team leader I needed to coordinate my team work and make sure that the wiki is ready for peer-review by Wednesday. Luckily Chau and Nida were quick to respond and do their part of the tasks. However, I got a bit panicky when Nil did not reply and did not attempt the second part of the task. I thought we will have to finish it for her, especially when I got a message from Elvina asking me to make sure that the coding for all wiki pages is there. But then on Monday Nil completed the task and we were done 3 days before the deadline! :)

The forum for this week was more or less easier to keep track of as I think all the participants were busier with their wikis than with the forum. However, the thread for Grades and Reports was quite busy and all the post were quite helpful in forming an opinion about usefulness of keeping an eye on activity reports and grades.

Elvina summarised this thread nicely and I would like to keep it for future reference.

"This has been a quite fruitful thread. Some of you have even attempted creating a sample of what a record might look like and have weighed the task and what it takes. Sorry for the long wrap-up, but the topic is worth it as having a clear idea of this, will be fundamental when moderating a course.
You have identified how useful the Grades and Activity Reports are both for CPs and eMods. They help

Course Participant
Keep track of progress (Hang, Nil, Chau, Dave)
Tasks done and pending  
Keep track of exercises (attempted, done); resources viewed (Anna). This helps  the mod to keep a record of individual progress and to act accordingly
Provide a sense of accomplishment (Hang)
Adds motivation to move one, whether grades are good or not

Keep track of performance (Nil)
Activity reports can help the CP see if they are meeting the assessment criteria, if tasks are marked by the system

Keep track of logs, time spent online (Nil)

Gives the mod an idea of time spent online in each unit.
Objectivity (Nil)

Reflects quantitative data: time spent online, logs, number of posts, marks received.
Time consuming (Nil)

Requires time to keep track of each participant´s activity
Keep track of deadlines (Anna)

Can tell the moderator when a task was completed

The group has also agreed that the existing Grades and Activity Reports are insufficient to represent the CPs´activity. Anna even gave it a go in creating her own sample spreadsheet..
Having a spreadsheet allows you
to represent a lot of information -- to create a data base of assignment grades, task fulfilments, contributions to forums etc, in a very readable and obvious manner
to record the information you need to make judgments about how CPs are going and the extent to which they need more support or challenge.
However, there are some challenges implied here:
creating your own spreadsheet may be time-consuming as you have to go through each unit compiling important info to be included;
these spreadsheets should be adapted to reflect the real activity in each unit. Adding a row with comments may be really useful, as well as adding a column with additional activities
Additionally, the group also identified several ways in which the Grades and Activity Reports could be misleading:
Views vs time. There isn't any clear indication of the quality of the time spent viewing (Anna, Hang, Chau)

Quantity vs quality. It does not tell us about quality of contributions. The number of forum posts may be high, but the content may be of little value, and vice versa. Therefore, certain statistics provided by Activity Reports should not be overestimated. (Nida)

Grades vs feedback. A quiz/task/assignment can be givne a quantitative score. However, comment from the moderator could be more useful if following assessment guidelines (Marie).
Grades vs. learning. Depending on how the administrator has set up the grading system in exercises and quizzes, perfect scores could be the result of a trial and error process and not reflect “learning”.

Grades vs assessed tasks. While it is useful to have a summary of participant activity, we can´t rely solely on the grades and activity reports info to assess participants. We need to consider quality of forum and wiki contributions and assignments.

Passive participation. It would be difficult to interpret the progress of a passive student (a lurker). CPs could also keep track of progress using other resources such as the task checklist or calendar (Chau)

And finally, some suggestions were given on how to customize the Grades and Activity reports for moderation purposes:
· The moderator could comment on performance at the end of each unit. The journal could be a tool for feedback.
· Provide a tutorial for CPs to learn how to use the reports
· Provide an additional assessment criteria to make up for the gaps in assessing quality in the activity reports
It may be useful to start thinking how you´d customize your own assessment guidelines for a course, as this will be the assignment for Unit 5."

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