Supporting the transition from third level education to employment by peer-peer learning through online reflective blog assessment

Ryan, Sinead and Dunne, Julie (2014) Supporting the transition from third level education to employment by peer-peer learning through online reflective blog assessment. In: The 15th Educational Technology Conference of the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA). May 29th and 30th, UCD, Dublin, Ireland.


Students on work placement will have different experiences from each other, however they are generally not connected to their peers, but working with professionals under the guidance of a work placement tutor. We found that students were not formally supported by peers and did not learn from the diverse range of activities their peers experienced during work placement. This research describes an approach for developing critical thinking skills through reflective writing by introducing an online blog assessment, which allows experiences to be shared within a class group. A reflective blog assessment was implemented using the virtual learning environment system Blackboard. We identified key requirements and resources to prepare, support and engage students in all aspects of the assessment. Examples are assessment rubric, instructional videos prepared using Camtasia Studio® and reflective writing resources, all available to the student through Blackboard. We will discuss these resources and activities, implementation of a pre-placement reflective writing workshop, feedback mechanisms, and assessment strategies which actively promoted student interaction with their peers. Evaluation results including recommendations, limitations and suggested improvements will also be included. Main benefits were all students had the potential to learn from their own reflections; from each other's experiences; from tutor feedback on their blog and peer blogs; from the process of peer review and through broadening the curriculum by connecting the 'class room' setting to 'real life working environment'. On a national level this assessment addresses the theme 'Teaching for Transitions' from the National Forum of the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. An assessment of this nature also resonates with several recommendations on Modernisation of Higher Level Education in Europe particularly in terms of assessment against clear and agreed learning outcomes, and the exploitation of opportunities presented by the digital era to improve the quality of teaching and learning.

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