Thesis defense advice

At the same time, the teacher was able to read the discussion, at her convenience, and intervene when it seemed that a little nudge might help.

The discussion board also offered another advantage: speed of intervention. More Bindings: Survey Results The survey at the end of the semester provided insight into how the students viewed the writing assignments in the context of their introduction to statistics and their learning in the course.

Table 3 summarizes some of the results of the survey, comparing how students from the two different sections, the A section that wrote on the discussion board and the B section that wrote journal entries, responded to statements in that survey. In our study, more students appeared to enjoy the discussion board than the solitary journal writing. Only two students in each section, however, indicated they did not enjoy the activity. A majority of the students thought the writing assignments were worth keeping. Sixty-seven percent of the students in Section A would recommend the discussion board become a permanent part of the course. Most of the students surveyed agreed that the writing assignments did not add excessively to the course workload. Perhaps more importantly, most of the students felt that the addition of writing to the course was beneficial to their learning.

In addition to the six statements using the Likert scale, students were asked for general comments, and some of the narrative comments in this section may provide some specifics about why the students saw the discussion board as beneficial. Journal entries were not seen by students as being quite so beneficial.

In contrast, only two-thirds of the students in section B indicated they would not have preferred the discussion board. Four students in the latter section actually indicated they would have preferred the discussion board. For this survey question, a non- parametric test was used to compare student responses in Section A to student responses in Section B. The results of this analysis support the overall preference for the discussion board. Table 4 shows the results of non-parametric Mann-Whitney U tests on each of the six survey questions Question 5, regarding the preference for the typed journal responses versus the discussion board, was the only question to show statistical significance.

It should be noted that for each survey item, the responses of students in Section A were overall slightly more positive. We believe that the writing we saw students doing during this study, however, justifies the extra work for the instructor.

It is probable that both forms of writing helped students to improve their understanding of mathematics and their ability to communicate mathematically. The differences in achievement between the two groups were not clear enough to indicate that one type of assignment is preferable to the other. Section A, the discussion board section, performed better overall on Test 1 and on the final exam. On Test 2, Section B very slightly outperformed Section A. We feel, however, that the project was beneficial, both for the students and for the instructor.

It is evident that overall, the students believe that they benefited from the process of writing in their statistics course. The journal entries were typically longer than the discussion posts and replies, partly because the instructor set a required length for that assignment and not the other. The required length may have allowed for more extended individual thinking. It provides the students with validation from their peers, building their confidence as statistical thinkers during the process of the actual thinking. The survey data also shows an overall preference for the discussion board over the prompted journals.

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The instructor is planning on continuing to use the discussion board in future sections of Introduction to Statistics. The analysis of writing in the statistics course presented here shows that writing assignments prompt students to articulate their increasing understanding of statistics in several important ways.

Both the journal entries and the discussion board posts show evidence that students thesis defense advice are able to articulate some of the concepts they are learning in the statistics course, to produce examples, and to connect those concepts to their own lives. In addition, the discussion board writing allows students to interact and to negotiate meaning in a social context, which may further their learning even more. Students also feel that the discussion board assignment helps them learn the material. Because writing in the statistics course appears to help students learn, it would seem important to continue to find ways to integrate writing into statistics instruction thesis defense advice and to further evaluate its effectiveness as a pedagogical tool. The essays consisted of a review of current literature to discuss the molecular involvement of cancer development or stem-cell growth.

Following implementation of the thesis defense advice peer reviews, we conducted a preliminary analysis of the pros and cons of using the two methods. Student and instructor feedback suggested that the activity of peer review was generally perceived as valuable regardless of which approach was used. OPR was convenient and saved time and resources relative to FPR, but the technical drawbacks using the OPR approach made it challenging for some students to use. A subsequent investigation using alternative OPR programs that offer additional functionality is planned. Since it involves the joint construction of knowledge through discourse, it could be argued that peer assessment has its philosophical foundations in active learning (Piaget, 1971) and social construction (Vygotsky, 1962). Topping (1998) conducted a review of the literature and identified that peer assessment yields cognitive benefits in multiple ways: constructive reflection, increased time on task, attention to crucial elements of quality work, and greater sense of responsibility. Interestingly, these benefits were found for both the students who conducted the reviews and the students who received peer-reviewed comments. As such, online peer review (OPR) is emerging as a popular alternative to the classic format, face-to-face peer review (FPR).

For example, OPR allows the implementation of peer review sessions without physical and time constraints (Rollinson, 2005), and longer peer review sessions may lead to higher quality peer reviews. The purpose of this essay is to share how OPR and FPR methods were used in large second- year science classes and the thesis defense advice preliminary results about the pros and cons of using either approach. Unlike most previous studies which have focused on using OPR and FPR to develop rudimentary language skills in ESL classes, we hope to elucidate whether the application of these two modes of peer review can be extended to the university level to enhance essay writing, specifically in the sciences. This report is intended to be a preliminary comparison of OPR and FPR that precedes a more direct comparison in the future.

Implementation of Face-to-Face and Calibrated Peer Review Just over 500 students participated in FPR as a component of their science essays for a second-year research methodologies course in the fall of 2010.

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