The Benefits of Assessing Tutorial Participation in Virtual Classrooms

Agi O'Hara
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Despite difficulties associated with its assessment, many units of study still allocate 10-15% of total marks to tutorial participation in tertiary institutions. Considerable teaching experience and group facilitation skills, do not necessarily ensure that all students feel equally free to speak in face-to-face tutorials. Students may be shy, have a fear of public speaking, feel intimidated by other students or simply require more time to develop and express their ideas, than is available in face-to-face tutorials. It is sometimes not easy to discriminate between quantity and quality of input. Students whose voices are frequently heard will often make a greater impression than others whose input is rare, though insightful.

It is with this in mind, and the fact that Psychology for Social Work students had been requesting more opportunity for student-student as well as student-lecturer interactions than was possible in their one-hour tutorials, that online discussions were introduced into the unit of study in 2002.

When appropriately structured and if students are adequately prepared, online tutorial discussions offer an informal yet valuable means of extending tutorial contact and a more equitable means of assessing tutorial participation. There are of course many benefits to online discussions beyond assessment. The variety of perspectives is greatly enhanced by input from students who do not generally speak in face-to-face tutorials. Whilst online, students quite readily provide very positive feedback to previously reluctant contributors. This has been shown to enhance self-confidence in ‘shy’ students and creates a shared perception that these students are valued members of their learning community. This is merely one of many reasons to consider online discussions as a means of assessing student contributions to tutorial learning outcomes

Keywords: Learning, Teaching, Online, Assessment, Benefits
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Agi O'Hara

Lecturer, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW, Australia

Agi has been a lecturer in psychology to social work students since 1992. She coordinates, lectures and tutors in the Psychology for Social Work units of study, lecturing in the areas of counselling, child abuse, domestic violence, suicide prevention and grief. She also teaches the Skills workshop unit of study to 3rd year students and the postgraduate Groupwork unit of study in the MSW programme.

She is a registered psychologist and a member of the Australian Psychological Society, with many years of experience working with individuals, couples and groups. Her academic interests have been pursued in parallel with professional development as a practising psychologist, enabling her to apply up-to-date theory and research in teaching and working with clients.

Agi is completing her PhD with the School of Psychology, Faculty of Science, in the area of mentoring disadvantaged young people.

Ref: I06P0344