"A little muddled and in need of greater clarity": encouraging formative use of the Academic Writing Toolkit
ODowd 2019 'A little muddled and ...
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Book title'Blended and online education within European university networks' - Overview of papers on Higher Education for the Future as presented during the Online, Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference in Madrid, October 2019
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AbstractThe Academic Writing Toolkit is an online resource developed for Hibernia College's blended-learning programmes in initial teacher education, to provide distance-learning students with accessible and timely guidance on improving their academic writing. Available to students and faculty via the Moodle LMS and designed for asynchronous delivery, the Toolkit provides guidance on technical writing skills such as referencing, grammar, formatting and style, as well as on specialised areas as reflective writing, assessment writing and dissertation writing. The design was informed by a chunked or bite-size ethos to encourage continuous, formative and self-motivated use throughout the academic programmes. However, an examination of user engagement patterns in the first year suggested that, contrary to expectations, there was little evidence of students returning to the Toolkit for help on key topics at crucial points in their programmes. This paper will outline how elements of the Toolkit were updated in response to findings from previous research (presented at OOFHEC2018). Findings from a study of engagement with the updated version of the Toolkit (n=334) will be presented, including comparisons of findings from learning analytics data collected from activity logs for pre- and post-redesign iterations. The results of this analysis, combined with survey feedback on students' use experience (n=41), will inform an evaluation of the impact of specific design and dissemination enhancements on Toolkit engagement. In particular, the impact of increased awareness of the Toolkit's potential among College faculty will be discussed. These findings will give practical insights into the roles of instructional design and faculty awareness in creating digital learning tools that meet the unique engagement and support needs of distance learners.
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