Archive for category Teaching

Dr Bektik: Duygu’s viva

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-22-00-47On 14th December, Duygu Bektik defended her thesis successfully, and now only minor corrections stand between her and her doctorate.

Learning Analytics for Academic Writing through Automatic Identification of Meta-Discourse

When assessing student writing, tutors look for ability to present well-reasoned arguments, signalled by elements of meta-discourse. Some natural language processing systems can detect rhetorical moves in scholarly texts, but no previous work has investigated whether these tools can analyse student writing reliably. Duygu’s thesis evaluates the Xerox Incremental Parser (XIP), sets out ways in which it could be changed to support the analysis of student writing and proposes how its output could be delivered to tutors. It also investigates how tutors define the quality of undergraduate writing and identifies key elements that can be used to identify good student writing in the social sciences.

Duygu was supervised by me and by Denise Whitelock, Anna De Liddo and Simon Buckingham Shum (now at .

Her viva examiners were Paul Mulholland and Gary Wills (University of Southampton). The viva was chaired by John Richardson.

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Validating qualifications

Durham publicity shot of graduating studentsOn 22 June, I travelled up to Durham with a team from the Centre for Inclusion and Collaborative Partnerships at The Open University in order to carry out a validation review at New College.

We had been asked to validate the Cert ED and the Professional Graduate Certificate in Education courses run by the college, which does not currently have the authority to award qualifications at this level. Like many other colleges in England, it asked the OU to validate its courses, so that students completing those courses could receive certificates from The Open University.

Through its Royal Charter, the OU is able to validate the programmes of institutions that do not have their own degree-awarding powers or that wish to offer OU awards. Validation is an iterative process, carried out over a period of time, culminating in an event that brings together participants. The process covers ten areas:

  1. Rationale, aims and intended learning outcomes of the programme of study
  2. Curriculum and structure of the programme of study
  3. Teaching and learning
  4. Admissions and transfer
  5. Assessment
  6. Staffing, staff development and research
  7. Teaching and learning resources
  8. Other resources for students
  9. Programme management and monitoring
  10. Programme specification and handbook

The process requires close scrutiny of relevant documentation, discussions with staff and students involved with the programmes, and tours of the facilities. A very interesting day, and a chance to get a detailed overview of how two qualifications work in practice.

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Rhetorical analysis and tutors’ grades

Duygu presenting at LAK16One of my doctoral students, Duygu Simsek (now Duygu Bektik), presented on her work at LAK15.

Simsek, Duygu; Sandor, Ágnes; Buckingham Shum, Simon; Ferguson, Rebecca; De Liddo, Anna and Whitelock, Denise (2015). Correlations between automated rhetorical analysis and tutors’ grades on student essays. In: 5th International Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference (LAK15), 16-20 March 2015, Poughkeepsie, NY, USA, ACM.

When assessing student essays, educators look for the students’ ability to present and pursue well-reasoned and strong arguments. Such scholarly argumentation is often articulated by rhetorical metadiscourse. Educators will be necessarily examining metadiscourse in students’ writing as signals of the intellectual moves that make their reasoning visible. Therefore students and educators could benefit from available powerful automated textual analysis that is able to detect rhetorical metadiscourse. However, there is a need to validate such technologies in higher education contexts, since they were originally developed in non-educational applications. This paper describes an evaluation study of a particular language analysis tool, the Xerox Incremental Parser (XIP), on undergraduate social science student essays, using the mark awarded as a measure of the quality of the writing. As part of this exploration, the study presented in this paper seeks to assess the quality of the XIP through correlational studies and multiple regression analysis.

Duygu’s slides

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Funded studentship opportunity – researching MOOCs at the OU

MOOC educator poster

The Open University is advertising six Leverhulme doctoral scholarships in open world learning with a closing date for applications of Monday 9 March 2015. These are full-time, fully funded studentships, leading to a PhD.

One of the named topics is ‘Educator roles in open online courses‘ and the description is:

“What roles do educators play in massive open online courses (MOOCs)? How can they be most effective in supporting learners to achieve their learning goals? In these open online settings, teaching is carried out by a team of educators, including academic lead, course presenter, moderator, facilitator and the learners themselves. These roles are still being developed, and there is a pressing need to identify evidence-based good practice. The successful candidate will use data from a range of MOOCs to answer the questions above, and will have opportunities to work with the FutureLearn Academic Network, an international team of MOOC researchers.”

If you are interested in applying, you need to provide a short research proposal explaining how this area fits the overall theme of Open World Learning and how you intend to conduct research on the topic selected. See the website for more specific details about applying.

When putting together an application, you may find it useful to take a look at these two papers: Taking on different roles: how educators position themselves in MOOCs and Innovative pedagogy at massive scale: teaching and learning in MOOCs.

 

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Digital Historians in Italy: a doctoral success

Claudia and I, with examiners Martin Weller and Tim Hitchcock

Claudia and I, with examiners Martin Weller and Tim Hitchcock

My EdD student Claudia Favero (co-supervised by Jan Parker) successfully completed her viva on 9 June. Claudia’s thesis was on ‘Developing digital historians in Italy’, a country where she has taught at university level for many years.

Claudia’s thesis showed that the training of future digital historians is an investment that the whole profession can and should make, not only for its future inside and outside academia but also for the future of the discipline itself.

Her study highlighted the need, and the marked absence in Italy, of a supportive, enabling professional and institutional environment. An environment like this makes digital history research and the education and training of future historians in digital tools and methodologies not only possible, but also effective and sustainable.

Claudia’s study contrasted the situation in Italy with the situation in the UK where there is a professional role specifically associated with digital history, where digital historians have access to funds/resources and incentives/rewards and where dialogue is pursued and valued with the adjoining field of digital humanities. In this environment, it is possible for digital historians to build sustainable educational and research frameworks.

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Lecturer in IET

Jennie Lee BuildingAs of 1st September 2013, I am working as a full-time permanent lecturer within the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University :-)

Main purpose of the post, according to the job ad:

To become an academic member of the Institute of Educational Technology (IET) by conducting teaching, research and scholarship in support of the strategic aims of IET and The Open University. Working in teams, members of IET are expected to provide leadership in learning and teaching to members of other faculties and units. They must therefore not only be excellent in their own teaching, and understanding of the student learning experience, but must be skilled communicators. Through the conduct of high-quality, internationally recognised research, members of IET can contribute to, and influence the direction of, the University’s approach to teaching, developing and maintaining the University’s reputation for excellence in this area.  IET academics can also influence the onward development of the Institute, and we welcome energetic people with creative contributions to community development.

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LASI: Panel on analytics for 21st-century skills

Twitter comment about the presentationsScreenshot of the panel in progressWhile at the Learning Analytics Summer Institute at Stanford, I participated in a panel on Analytics for 21st-century Skills. The panel was chaired by Caroline Haythornthwaite and my fellow panellists were Ruth Deakin-Crick (University of Bristol) and Peter Foltz (Pearson).

My section of the panel focused on our work with EnquiryBlogger. This tool, built on the WordPress blogging platform, can be used to help structure knowledge construction, and to reflect on the emotions and dispositions that form part of the learning process.

You can read Doug Clow’s liveblog of the panel – one of a series of posts covering the whole of LASI13 – or watch a replay of the event.

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