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Author Topic: Corrections to discussion posts  (Read 18844 times)
kdice
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« on: April 08, 2012, 10:52:48 PM »

Hello,

I just started a new online class and got an email from a student upset with how I had responded to discussion posts. I have taught about 25 sections of online courses, so I have some experience, but this is a new one.

Given that this was the first week of class, there were the usual problems with posts: based totally on opinion, factual errors, and simpler problems with APA style in those who did cite sources. Generally, when I comment on posts I try to do the feedback sandwich of saying something positive, giving correction, saying something else positive. In some cases I ask a question rather than make the correction myself, but sometimes I correct the mistakes.

This student said she was embarrassed to receive corrective feedback on the board. She said all her other instructors just ask neutral questions to raise issues. Any other feedback is given privately to students or general posts are made by the instructor not "calling anyone out." She indicated that me providing corrections just raised the stress level about posting.

What are the thoughts of the forum on this? I wrote back to her indicating the value to other students of seeing the corrections and reminding her that no one is expecting students to be perfect. I also am going to do everything I can to keep that tone on the boards positive with exclamation points and smileys, but I am having a tough time thinking I shouldn't correct students on the boards. What do you do? Do you comment on APA style on posts? Factual errors? Do you just ask questions to point them in a direction?
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zuzu_
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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2012, 8:51:54 AM »

Gently correcting is fine. I am glad you stood firm on that while still reassuring your student that  making mistakes is OK. As you already seem to know, online communication requires a lot more attention to word choice, since tone cannot be conveyed as easily as it can in a classroom conversation.
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erikjensen
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2012, 4:06:24 PM »

There is nothing wrong with publicly pointing out factually incorrect or poorly supported discussion posts. It is not our job to validate every single thing students do. This isn't preschool.

I don't think the discussion board is the place to nitpick over grammar or spelling, but perhaps that depends on the class.
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yellowtractor
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2012, 4:12:35 PM »

I use on-line discussion boards in some classes.  The unvarying presumption among my students (selective SLAC) is that on-line communication is somehow subject to fewer, or different, rules of usage, sourcing, and/or decorum.

I deal with this in two ways.  First, I make sure to open the discussion boards for my classes with a brief disquisition about appropriate posting idiom.  Meaning, I expect standard written English, and I expect the same level of decorum among posters that I would expect in a F2F classroom setting.  Second, I try admonishing individual malefactors via follow-up e-mails, rather than on the board itself.

If that fails, I have no problem whatsoever in calling them out in public.  Sometimes shame works.

In this case, it sounds as if the student simply had other expectations about posting protocol and feedback.  You are free, of course, to manage such boards as you will, but being clear up front about one's expectations helps.
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larryc
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2012, 4:37:56 PM »

"Dear Student:  Thank you for letting me know of your concerns. I do try to be supportive as possible, but sometimes students post information that is not correct, and in those cases it is my job to correct the record as quickly as possible, just as I would in the classroom. As the semester goes on it will happen to everyone at least once, and is not a cause for embarrassment. Sincerely, Dr. X"
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yellowtractor
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2012, 4:40:24 PM »

"Dear Student:  Thank you for letting me know of your concerns. I do try to be supportive as possible, but sometimes students post information that is not correct, and in those cases it is my job to correct the record as quickly as possible, just as I would in the classroom. As the semester goes on it will happen to everyone at least once, and is not a cause for embarrassment. Sincerely, Dr. X"

That, of course, will do nicely.
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kdice
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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2012, 8:57:12 PM »

"Dear Student:  Thank you for letting me know of your concerns. I do try to be supportive as possible, but sometimes students post information that is not correct, and in those cases it is my job to correct the record as quickly as possible, just as I would in the classroom. As the semester goes on it will happen to everyone at least once, and is not a cause for embarrassment. Sincerely, Dr. X"

Perfect, thank you!
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proftowanda
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2012, 1:31:23 PM »

"Dear Student:  Thank you for letting me know of your concerns. I do try to be supportive as possible, but sometimes students post information that is not correct, and in those cases it is my job to correct the record as quickly as possible, just as I would in the classroom. As the semester goes on it will happen to everyone at least once, and is not a cause for embarrassment. Sincerely, Dr. X"

Perfect, thank you!

Yes, I have learned to say in my public postings something on the order of "Thank you for raising this point, which so often can be confusing, so for clarification for the sake of other students who have not yet posted/who may see this on the next test, the name was/date was/event was," etc. 

There is need to keep online discussion from being derailed by factual errors in content or failure to follow instructions.  Also, if I do not do so, a classmate may do so less nicely, which can derail discussion in other ways with flaming wars -- banned on the syllabus, of course -- or, worse for the shy sorts, shutdowns of discussion.  If a classmate points out an error nicely before I can do so, of course, and perhaps modeled on my example of first praising and then gently suggesting the reason for the correction for the common good, that gets a post from me (or at times a private email from me) applauding that as appropriate to civil discourse. 

As for writing errors, I have learned to post a summary after each course component that notes common errors, not singling out any student and also saving me a lot of individual posts, emails, etc.   These corrections and suggestions need not be posted immediately as less likely to confuse classmates and/or derail discussion.  Of course, again there can be classmates who like to point out others' writing errors, but I state in the syllabus that grading is my task, not theirs.

By the way, this is nothing new; I've had students complain about being mildly corrected in face-to-face classes as well, as if that never happened before in their dozen or more years of education.  Perhaps their prior teachers in this Nu Age of Self-Esteem, Above All, really did not conduct class in this manner done for millennia, but then it is time for a bit of a pep talk about bosses in their future who will not be so mild, believe me, and/or about the difference between individual tutorials vs. mass education, when we have students in front of us or online for only a few hours a week, sometimes hundreds of students at a time at my sort of campus, and perhaps the student needs to select smaller classes or a smaller campus. . . .
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baphd1996
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2012, 12:38:59 PM »

I give critiques privately.  On the board, publicly, I just go with the discussion.  I may throw a few questions in to guide the discussion.  I learned early on not to point out an issue publicly, even if the entire class could learn from it.
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infopri
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« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2012, 7:46:00 PM »

I have learned to say in my public postings something on the order of "Thank you for raising this point, which so often can be confusing, so for clarification for the sake of other students who have not yet posted/who may see this on the next test, the name was/date was/event was," etc. 

There is need to keep online discussion from being derailed by factual errors in content or failure to follow instructions.

This.

My syllabus explicitly states my expectations for discussion posts in terms of content (no simple "I agree/disagree" posts, but rather additional substance to move the discussion forward), form (standard English, etc.), and tone (respectful, impersonal, focused on issue rather than speaker, etc.).  I also warn them that I will jump into the discussion to clarify and correct student posts when necessary.

Then, when I do have to jump in, I do as proftowanda describes.  I acknowledge that the point can be confusing (even when it's not usually confusing to anyone smarter than a rock), explain that I want to make sure no one takes away the wrong notion, and then I make the correction.  Either at the beginning or after my clarification, I say something positive about the student's post, and then I sometimes add a new discussion prompt to my post, to make sure that my intervention doesn't shut the conversation down (a big concern at my school, apparently).  So far, this approach has worked nicely.  But if anyone were ever to complain (it hasn't happened yet), I'd respond with something similar to larryc's suggested response:

"Dear Student:  Thank you for letting me know of your concerns. I do try to be supportive as possible, but sometimes students post information that is not correct, and in those cases it is my job to correct the record as quickly as possible, just as I would in the classroom. As the semester goes on it will happen to everyone at least once, and is not a cause for embarrassment. Sincerely, Dr. X"
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