A scaffolded approach to discussion board use for formative assessment of academic writing skills
Horstmanshof, L & Brownie, S 2013, 'A scaffolded approach to discussion board use for formative assessment of academic writing skills', Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 61-73.
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Mastery of academic writing skills remains one of the greatest challenges for university students, especially in the first year. Amongst the reasons offered for the challenges are lack of clarity about the university’s expectations and low levels of teacher feedback on work submitted, a failure to engage, and low levels of contact with teaching staff and other students. Academic staff are challenged by increased class numbers and increased student diversity in classes and university policies to adopt a wide range of information technologies into teaching modes. In this paper, we offer one attempt at addressing these three important contemporary academic challenges: use of information technology to provide timely feedback through formative assessment to help students with a range of abilities to acquire the academic writing skills necessary to succeed in higher education. Early indications show that students find this form of formative assessment very useful. They value the timely and focused feedback from the lecturer and are developing collegiality as they learn from each others’ writing and feedback. We believe that this strategy is sustainable and can be adapted to facilitate academic and social integration for students across many disciplines.