Assessment return and thoughts on student engagement

Another session has drawn to a close and I have received my marks on my final assessments in the two subjects I studied. I had a stronger showing this session and that has propmpted some reflections on the role of student engagement in achievement – at least on a personal, anecdotal level.

My research proposal for EER500 was a solid HD and would set me up nicely for considering whether I was interested in pursuing a doctorate, if only my overwhelming feeling upon completion hadn’t been “Thank goodness I don’t have to actually do this research project!” I really enjoy literature search and analysis, but I am not as enthusiastic about running the gauntlet of bureaucracy that is required to gather primary data in an educational setting.

In the case of EER500, I feel that the organisation of the class, the clarity of the assignment expectations and the enthusiasm of the instructor for the subject fostered engagement and enabled fulfilment of student potential for achievement. By clearing the road of the administrative obstacles and obstacles of unclear expectations that seemed to plague my subjects in the first session, I feel that Dr James Deehan really cleared the way for me to engage energetically with the subject and to pour my energy for the subject into the actual work, rather than into figuring out what had to get done and how to accomplish it. His obvious enthusiasm for research was infectious and helped to engage interest in what could often be considered a dry and tedious core subject.

I was on tenterhooks regarding the result for my final assessment in INF533: Literature in Digital Environments. That was a three part assessment, with Parts A, B and C already posted on this blog. The keystone of that was the digital storytelling project created for Part B. I barely scraped in to the HD level on my first assignment in this subject and I was really hoping for a good result here, but had a hard time impartially evaluating the quality of the project into which I had invested so much time, effort, and enthusiasm. I was relieved and delighted to achieve my best grade yet in the course, an HD coming in at over 95%, and it was especially gratifying to receive really positive feedback on my digital artefact from an instructor who I know to have substantial experience with digital literature.

Factors that I felt contributed to my engagement and resulting achievement in this subject were my personal enthusiasm for the topic and the freedom of choice to pursue my own interest in the creation of the digital artefact centrepiece. As I was deciding on topics for the final project, I was encouraged by others to pursue the topic that I personally felt the most passion about. That was fantastic advice, because my personal interest was a highly motivating factor in finding and compiling the materials that went into the piece. In fact, it was a bit difficult once I finished that portion of the task to a) stop fiddling with it and tweaking it, and b) write Parts A and C to accompany it.

Where does this musing lead me? I am encouraged to take my experiences as a student and the lessons of engagement and achievement I seein my own journey and apply them to my educational practice. I will look for ways to improve my organisation and administration to support my students and get administrative entanglements out of their way. I will also strive to increase my clarity in communicating expectations for learning experiences, activities, and tasks – giving students the clearest possible roadmap to successful outcomes. Finally, I will do my best to encourage student choice and pursuits of personal interest in assignments, while still fulfilling the requirements of curriculum and syllabus expectations. Now to start spruiking for job opportunities in which to implement these aspirations!

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