December 3, Analyzing Writing Tasks: Pre-task

Since I could not participate in our last TACE meeting, I will submit the pre-task in blog form. The reason for not participating is a broken ankle and a casted foot, resulting from a running accident. Below, I am analyzing the portfolio instructions for the ongoing course CCSE3022 Popular Culture Texts, which I am teaching at the University of Vaasa in the role of Doctoral Student at the University of Jyväskylä.

  1. Setting and time: Is the assignment to be written in class or at home? How much time do the students have to complete the assignment? Can the deadline be made flexible for students with special learning needs (e.g. extended deadlines)?

Context: Reflective Portfolio instructions for CCSE3022 Popular Culture Texts, University of Vaasa.

Time: Course time Oct 2 – Dec 11, 2018.  Deadline for the portfolio Jan 15, 2018. Time to complete the portfolio: 5 weeks.

The deadline can be shortened and extended.

  1. Nature of work: Is the assignment individual or written in collaboration (in pairs/groups)? Are there guidelines for possible problem scenarios in the case of collaborative work? (What happens if…?)

The assignment is individual, but the students may enter into a dialogue with other students’ comments and posts, the course material, the teacher’s comments, the world outside the university.

  1. Length of product: Is there a minimum and/or maximum length you set?

The length is specified for the introduction (1 paragraph), the critical reflection (1-3 paragraphs) and the conclusion (1 paragraph). The main body consists of the students’ personal blog post and the length may vary slightly from one student to another, depending on how long their posts are and if they have completed extra credit assignments.

  1. Alignment with learning outcomes: How is the assignment aligned with the learning outcomes of the course?

The learning outcomes of the course are that student can read and analyze different popular culture texts and understand their functions and impact on society. The students are familiar with theories and research on popular culture together with understand and use relevant terminology.

The assignment is directly aligned with the outcomes. During the course the students have been blogging about five different popular genres. The portfolio puts their learning experiences (the blog posts) together into one portfolio text, in which the students will critically reflect on their own writing and learning experiences.

  1. Information sources: Do the students have to use sources? Is there a minimum number of sources you require? Are the students given a reading package or are they required to find their own sources? What types of sources do you expect them to use? What citation style is required?

The students are only required to use “internal sources,” found on Moodle. Since both popular culture texts and research articles on the different genres are available on Moodle, no external sources are needed to complete the portfolio, but naturally it is possible to include external sources if a student wishes to do so. Proper academic referencing is required for the introduction and the critical review but since the actual blog posts should remain intact, no referencing is needed inside these posts unless the students used referencing already in their posts. A Works Cited list is inserted as the last page of the portfolio.

  1. Method of assessment (formative or summative): Do you assess only the final product (=summative assessment) or also earlier versions (=formative assessment)?

 The students are graded on both their blog posts, which constitute the formative assessment, and their reflective portfolios (the summative assessment).

  1. Assessment criteria: What are the assessment criteria that you use? How are they aligned with the learning outcomes of the course? Are the same assessment criteria used in your department or do you use your own? When and how were the criteria developed? Are you satisfied with the criteria or would you like to modify them? If so, how?

The criteria are as follows:

  • Pride and Effort
  • Structure and Organization
  • Grammar and Mechanics
  • Content
  • Documentation
  • Theory, terminology, Concepts
  • Evidence of Thinking/Problem Solving
  • Evidence of Reflection/Self-Evaluation
  • Evidence of Progress/Growth

Borrowing from multiple sources, I have developed my own criteria. I developed the criteria specifically for this course. Since they are language students, creating a reflective portfolio on popular culture, and since they are asked to include all blog posts (not only a selection of their posts), I had to modify the assessment criteria from several sources.  I think it will work, but since both the criteria and the course are new, I will continue to modify them if needed. The rubric is aligned with both the objectives of the course and the portfolio.

  1. Type of feedback: How and when do you provide feedback? What kind of feedback do you provide: oral/written; individual/group; analytic (based on detailed descriptors)/holistic? Do you use peer feedback? If so, how? Do you require the students to submit self-evaluation?

The students have been given personal critical feedback on every blog post (the formative assessment) through written blog comments. The comments are given by me. In addition, the students have written peer feedback twice on their student friends’ posts. The reflective portfolio is a self-evaluation of their own work, in which they reflect on what they have learned in relation to the teacher’s and the other students’ feedback.

  1. Transparency of the assessment criteria: Do you show the students the assessment criteria beforehand? Do you give students a separate list of criteria (or a feedback form) that they can use in the peer-feedback?

The students have the objectives of the portfolio. At this point, the students have not seen the assessment criteria, but I may show it to them on our last class meeting. No feedback form was used for the peer-feedback since the questions and the assignments together with the content varied greatly but could be provided in the future.

  1. Main educational purpose and genre: What is the main purpose of the assignment (broad social function of university education)? Look at the table below (Nesi & Gardner, 2018, p. 53). What genre family does the assignment belong to, and what is the specific genre? How is this genre generally understood or defined in your field (e.g. purpose, organizational structure, balance between descriptive and critical writing, expression of own voice)? Is the expected genre expressed explicitly or implicitly in the writing prompt?

The main purpose of the assignment from the perspective of the broad social function of university education is developing knowledge and understanding of popular culture texts and their functions and impact on society together with developing powers of informed and independent reasoning.

Genre family                specific genre:

  • exercise                        individual blog posts                     implicitly expressed
  •  (self-)critique               portfolio                                         implicitly expressed

Due to my accident, I was not able to complete the points 11-13 in the assignment.

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