Recent them unmarked, in an attempt to encourage students’

Recent
years have seen an increase in the usage of blogs as learning tool in
classrooms. Commonly utilized as learning journals, discussion forums, and
tools for dissemination of course-related
information, blogs are believed to deliver a more active and participative
learning experience to students than conventional teaching approaches (Williams
& Jacobs, 2004). However, with blog being a relatively new learning tool, many
have doubts on ways blogs should be assessed.

Approaches
to blog assessment can be categorized into diagnostic, formative and summative (Cassidy, 2013; Dbodkin, 2011).
In delivering class to his Psychological
and Behavioural science students, Dr. Michael Muthukrishna, Assistant
Professor at the London School of Economics, carries out unmarked formative
assessment on his class’s blog posts throughout the term, and conducted  formal assessment on a summative blog post the
class is required to hand in by the end of the term (Muthukrishna n. d.). When formulating the
summative blog post, the class is given the option to base it on previous blog
posts and to have it submitted as privately-viewed assessment, in which the
rest of the class has no access to. Interview conducted with educators
assessing student blogs also reveal certain educators’ preference for giving an overall grade for
formative assessment of students’ blog posts to leaving them unmarked, in an
attempt to encourage students’ production of well-considered blog posts
(Hacker, 2010).

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Other
than adopting a combination of formative then summative approach to assessment of blogs, a
combination of diagnostic and summative approach is also adopted (Cassidy,
2013). While students are also required to post blog posts regularly, its main
purpose is to provide teachers with immediate and ongoing information on the
class’s learning progress, thus aiding teachers in their adjustment of teaching
(Cassidy, 2013; Evans, Halic, Lester, Paulus, Spence, & Taylor, 2009).  In this approach, students are also required
to submit a blog post as final summative assessment of the term. 

Blogs
adds a participatory dimension to its assessment through its facilitation of
participatory culture. According to Gardner, Ladyshewsky (2008), Moore and
Walker (2011, cited in Huang & Hung, 2016), in comparison to the
conventional teacher-centered approach, blog facilitates a student-centered
approach to learning and assessment. The interactive nature of blogs ‘brings …
learners’ thoughts and arguments into the open and allows for discussion and
restructuring of knowledge to occur’ (Gardner & Ladyshewsky, 2008, p.242). Through
inter-blogging discussion, collaborative production and peer review (Allen,
1999; DeLong, O’Neill & Peluso, 2011; Halic, Lee, Paulus, & Spence,
2010), students are given the opportunity to learn, assess, and receive
evaluation from their peers. These fosters students’ development of generic
skills like communications, self-reflection and upholds the spirit of
experiential learning (Dimitracopoulou, Fessakis & Tatsis, 2008; Gardner
& Ladyshewsky, 2008).

In
a study conducted by Trajtemberg and Yiakoumetti (2011), interaction strategies
bloggers employ in their EFL learning are examined.  Through data collection and observance study,
it is found that the cumulative layout of blog entries and the public visibility
of writing foster the ‘develop(ment) (of) a sense of progress and
self-evaluation’ (Trajtemberg
& Yiakoumetti, 2011, p.443) among students.

To
facilitate students’ self-assessment of their blogs, Glogowski (2007) introduces the self-evaluation
sheet (see fig.1.). As
demonstrated by/in fig. 1., self-evaluation on
one’s learning progress is divided into four categories, and under each
category are questions guiding students’ reflections on their performance on
each respective category. Students are invited to evaluate their progress under
these four categories (see
fig. 2.), and draw a horizontal line linking their level of performance
across these four categories together (as shown in fig.2.).

(insert
fig. 1.)

(insert
fig. 2.)

After
a number of discussions, Glogowski’s students have come to realize that accomplishments of certain
categories are fundamental to achievement in others. For the research
projects the grade eight students are required to execute, data gathering is
fundamental for their understanding of collected materials, and understanding
of collected materials are essential to allow critical and effectives use of
information, in turn leading to a higher level of learning and expression of
creativity based on reflection on the topic and materials collected (Glogowski,
2007). The self-assessment tool Glogowski designed sets learning priority for students
in order to produce a high quality assessment and elicit a deeper
self-reflection (Angelaina & Jimoyiannis, 2012; Gardner & Ladyshewsy,
2008).

In
order to accommodate assessment rubrics to blogs, various alterations have been
made. Besides of looking into the common criteria for assessing writings such
as content, style and referencing, other criteria such as timeliness and tags,
use of enhancements and audience awareness are also incorporated into the
assessment rubrics (Muthurkrishna n. d.; Teacherplanet n. d. ). For ‘timeliness
and tags’, student’s posting frequency and ability to associate it to other sources or peers’ posts are assessed
(Hou, Wang & Wu, 2016; Teacherplanet n. d.). ‘Use of enhancements’ assesses
students’ ability to utilize graphics, media and additional functions enabled
by the blog to enhance presentation of their ideas and content (ibid). Audience
awareness is used to evaluate whether their postings reflect an awareness of
their target audience and projects a consistent voice (ibid).  

One
of the challenges for assessment
of blogs lies on the amount of time it requires. Educational blogs can
be utilized for various learning objectives, thus blogs comes in different form.
Some comes in the form of discussion forum, some as e-portfolio, some for the
purpose of group-blogging, and some intend to create a project-based environment
(Angelaina & Jimoyiannis, 2012). This poses difficulty in designing a standardized rubric for blogs and
likely result in extra time taken to devise assessment rubrics for blogs in
different forms and for different learning objectives.

Besides,
formative assessment of blogs also raises concern on whether a long term
observation of students’ performances on blogs is temporally worthwhile. Assessments
in the traditional teacher-centered approach produces direct revelation of students’
achievement. In comparison, formative assessment of blogs contributes little to
directly revealing students’ level of achievement (Alejando & Olaojo, 2010;
Huang & Hung, 2016). This contributes to the impression of formative
assessment being a time-consuming assessment method incurring little effectiveness.
Nonetheless, formative assessment is great for uncovering necessary information
on students’ learning processes and acts as a good indicator for effectiveness
of teacher’s teaching approaches. Therefore formative assessment should be
regarded as an assessment tool which supports learning rather than judging
achievement. referencing
needed

Given
blog is a relatively new learning tool adopted in the education sector, more
work has to be done on structuring a theoretical framework for the assessment
of blogs and exploring its assessment potentials. With focus on improving
learning experience and achieving better learning outcomes pedagogy and
disciplinarity central to assessment design