I have been giving some thought to the task design aspect of course blogging and its a tricky one as if you don’t get it right then not only will students not be motivated but the results won’t necessarily address the planned learning outcome for the task. In other words the results of the task need to align clearly with the objectives of the course activity the blog is related to.
Good writing tasks require students to address messy, ill-structured problems that are highly motivating, interesting, realistic and relevant. However, there is no point in designing highly complex tasks if they are not going to be able to engage meaningfully with them. Also, the blogging is intended as a formative activity in as much as it is not the end goal. It is an opportunity to feedback on their work and provide students with the material to effectively reflect while making links between theory and their practice. So getting the task right will ideally set the students up with a body of material, plus feedback that will enable them to right their summatively assessed critical reflections at the end of the course unit.
In my literature searches I came across a useful resource referred to as the 3C3R model (Hung 2009) which I have drawn on extensively in the paper I am currently writing. I have presented below some notes and diagrams that are intended to illustrate the model in use.
The model operates across two dimensions as below:
- Content: what is the content of the learning that you want students to engage with, the topic, the subjects or learning outcomes.
- Context: is the task relevant to the students, is it situated within their own practice, does it have a real world-ness to it that would give the task some authenticity in the eyes of the students?
- Connection: how will students interleave sources of knowledge, identity relationships and interlink the concepts you want them to work with?
- Researching: are the goals specified clearly and do they specifically address the topic domain you would like students to investigate? Does the research process mirror that undertaken by professionals in the student’s field?
- Reasoning: will the students need to analyse, evaluate and synthesise the knowledge they gather?
- Reflecting: how will this new knowledge be applied through their practice? What will change?
In practice it is perhaps easier to conceive of the model as linear process of students in which the task stimulates research (finding out), reasoning (analysis) and reflection (putting it all together). It sets up a conceptual framework for thinking about task design and a checklist of ensuring the task meets the planned learning outcomes.
I have designed a workshop activity based on the model with an example of a task I have designed, one which I have already used in action, which the participants can try out and evaluate. the question being does the task follow the rubric of the model. There will also be an opportunity for the workshop participants to have a go at their own task design which they will need to do anyway when they start using the course blogs a few weeks later. We will then see if the model helps or if it over conceptualises everything.
Hung, W. (2009). The 9-step problem design process for problem-based learning: Application of the 3C3R model. Educational Research Review, 4(2), 118–141. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2008.12.001