Teaching Internship – Week 12

It was a small group this week with 6 students absent. Dr. M started class by reading excerpts from an Ed Week article  to illustrate statistical significance, threats to internal validity, and study design characteristics. This transitioned into more discussion about how to distinguish between comparative and causal-comparative studies (a topic that we had covered briefly in earlier classes but was apparently still causing confusion).  The points that Dr. M left with the students were that all causal-comparative studies are also comparative and that all experimental studies are causal-comparative. Clearly, classification of research studies by their designs is a subject that is challenging for students. It’s something that I will need to think carefully about before I teach this topic. I think the textbook lays it out very clearly, and I will need to make sure to go through it carefully and include many opportunities to practice.

At this point, we went through each of the 11 threats to internal validity ones-by-one and discussed the definitions, characteristics, and examples. Dr. M had an activity/game with dice to help understand statistical regression. It was a good way to break up the class, and I think I’ll use it when I present this material. We reminded students to memorize the 11 threats and then had a short discussion about external validity before concluding class.

This week was the deadline for students to have their e-portfolios set up in Blackboard and share them with their peer reviewer, with me, and with Dr. M. The first draft of the literature review for their projects was also supposed to be posted. Although this hasn’t been a disaster, it has been quite disappointing. Tips and instructions for using the portfolio feature in Blackboard have been posted on the course Bb site since the second or third week of the semester. I gave students a handout with the guidelines for their portfolios several weeks ago. I also created a sample portfolio and shared it with the course. After we assigned peer reviewers, I posted additional information and instructions. A week before the deadline, I sent an email reminding students about the requirement and letting them know I was available to assist them if they need help.

On the deadline, only six (out of 15) students had completed the assignment. A couple more had emailed me with questions or problems. Four days after the deadline, a few more had posted their portfolios, but at least half the class was still missing. I emailed each of the students who still had not completed the assignment. Some have responded, and I have been able to help them, but four students are still MIA. I have spent as lot of time thinking about what I could have done to make this process simpler. I thought I had done a good job of communicating the requirements and providing resources, but it simply has not worked out as planned. I can’t tell if the problem was primarily technical or if students have had trouble with the academic portion of the assignment. I think this might be a good question for a survey. I think electronic portfolios are a useful tool to document progress and give students feedback, and I want to use them next semester. I just don’t want to waste time on something that is frustrating. I need to figure out how to incorporate them effectively.

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