Chapter 1 Assessment package

For most students, assessment requirements literally define the curriculum. (James, McInnis, & Devlin, 2002, p. 7)

There are four types of assessment in this course:

Assessment Approximate Weighting
1 Weekly learning journal (LJ) 25 %
2 Peer evaluation of LJs 15 %
3 Summative learning journal 50 %
4 Participation 10 %

All of the assessments are relevant to the learning objectives.

1.1 Assessment due dates

There is no final examination; all the assessment takes place during the six weeks of the course. If the class, as a whole, thinks the dates for the learning journals and peer reviews need to be moved around a bit, then we can do that during week 1.

Week  Day Date Participation Learning journal tasks Due
1 Monday 16-Jul
Tuesday 17-Jul
Wednesday 18-Jul 16:00-19:00
Thursday 19-Jul Learning 01 journal due 17:00
Friday 20-Jul 09:00-12:00 Peer review 01 due 17:00
2 Monday 23-Jul Learning 02 journal due 17:00
Tuesday 24-Jul Peer review 02 due 17:00
Wednesday 25-Jul 16:00-19:00
Thursday 26-Jul Learning 03 journal due 17:00
Friday 27-Jul 09:00-12:00 Peer review 03 due 17:00
3 Monday 30-Jul Learning 04 journal due 17:00
Tuesday 31-Jul Peer review 04 due 17:00
Wednesday 01-Aug 16:00-19:00
Thursday 02-Aug Learning 05 journal due 17:00
Friday 03-Aug 09:00-12:00 Peer review 05 due 17:00
4 Monday 06-Aug Learning 06 journal due 17:00
Tuesday 07-Aug Peer review 06 due 17:00
Wednesday 08-Aug 16:00-19:00
Thursday 09-Aug Learning 07 journal due 17:00
Friday 10-Aug 09:00-12:00 Peer review 07 due 17:00
5 Monday 13-Aug Learning 08 journal due 17:00
Tuesday 14-Aug Peer review 08 due 17:00
Wednesday 15-Aug 16:00-19:00
Thursday 16-Aug Learning 09 journal due 17:00
Friday 17-Aug 09:00-12:00 Peer review 09 due 17:00
6 Monday 20-Aug Learning 10 journal due 17:00
Tuesday 21-Aug Peer review 10 due 17:00
Wednesday 22-Aug 16:00-19:00
Thursday 23-Aug
Friday 24-Aug 09:00-12:00 Summative learning journal 17:00

1.2 Learning objectives

At the completion of this course you should be able to select qualitative research methods that are appropriate for your chosen academic conversation (Huff, 2009), and to use those methods in a proficient manner.

In other words, by the end of this course it is expected that you will be able to:

  1. select qualitative research methods that are appropriate to the research conversation in which the student wishes to participate;
  2. be proficient in use tools and techniques in qualitative research;
  3. effectively communicate the findings arising from qualitative research;
  4. justify the choices made around the collection, analysis, and presentation of qualitative data, congruent with your chosen research conversation.

1.3 Weekly learning journals

Task objectives

  • To foster self-reflection on (a) the theory presented in the course, and (b) your experiences in being both an investigator and a participant in qualitative research.

  • To help with your sense making (Sensemaking in organizations, 1995) regarding this course.

A casual search using Google Scholar for learning journals provides a plethora of articles extolling their virtues. Broadly, learning journals foster high quality self-reflection and increase critical thinking.

You are to maintain a learning journal. Later, you are to use the your journal entries as the ‘data’ for a summative learning journal/essay on your major learnings from this course.

Task overview

During the course you are to write 10 learning journals of at least 400 words. The more you write the more grist you will have for your summative learning journal.

In each of your learning journal entries, you are to explore the linkages between the theoretical content of the course; e.g., the readings and class sessions with your practical experience e.g., doing and using qualitative research tools and techniques. As well as content (theory) from this course, you may, if appropriate, draw on material from other courses; indeed, you should make linkages to BUSINESS 710.

Ultimately, you should be considering the real difference the course is making to your thinking and behaviour around qualitative research.

What does a good learning journal look like?

Let’s begin by looking at the common problems. Based on experience with previous classes, the main problems are:

  • Many journals do not have a logical structure; the approach recommended by Daudelin (1996), should be your model. Using Daudelin’s method is the one most significant changes that most people could make when trying to improve their learning journals.

  • When using theory in their journals, people often use it to label things; e.g., ‘Interviews with more than two people are often called focus groups’. Very few (if any) people are using theory to either explain what is happening, or predict what might happen.

  • This is closely tied to the focus of some journals (i.e, not substantively addressing a real issue). I think that this partly because people aren’t drawing on particular theory to address a particular problem; instead they are drawing on the ‘theory of the week’. I really encourage you to use Daudeline’s approach, select theory that supports that issue (and that won’t necessarily be theory of the week).

  • Finally, many journals read like a ‘stream of conscious’, rather than a considered (and edited) reflection upon the week’s learning and writing up that reflection. Like any good piece of writing, learning journals benefit from going through a process of drafting and review.

1.4 Peer review of learning journals

Task objectives

Reflexivity—as distinct from reflection (Hibbert, Coupland, & MacIntosh, 2010)—is an important characteristic of qualitative research and its researchers (Haynes, 2012).

  • Through evaluating and commenting on the reflections of your peers, this assignment seeks to engender greater reflexivity.

  • To provide developmental feedback on your peers’ thinking about their stance and approach to qualitative research.

Task overview

Each week you must review, provide feedback on, and evaluate the learning journals of two of your colleagues. Over the course you will write 20 sets of feedback. Your primary goal in providing feedback is to help the author do a better job next time. If you feedback does not achieve that, then the author can rightly complain about the quality of your feedback (and that will affect your marks).

The feedback should, as a minimum, address:

  • How well the journal meets the guidelines provided by Daudelin (1996).
  • The extent to which the journal demonstrates achievement in the higher levels of Bloom et al.’s (1956) taxonomy of the cognitive domain.
  • The quality of the writing.

In all cases, you should suggest how they might improve their journal; it is insufficient to point out the weaknesses in their journal without providing specific actionable ways they might improve. For example, it is not good enough to say, “Check your grammar”. Rather you explain the nature of the problem and how they might fix it. Having said that, items like grammar and spelling are ‘hygiene’ factors—you should first provide feedback on more material aspects of journals, and then move on to the smaller matters (if warranted).

That being said, the secondary goal—and a characteristic of the best reviews–is to foster the development of greater reflexivity in your peers’ and your own approach to qualitative research.

1.5 Summative learning journal

Task objectives

  • Build on the weekly learning journals to enable an integrative reflection of your learning across the whole course.

  • To demonstrate what you regard as being most important in being a qualitative researcher.

  • To provide a basis for the evaluation of your achievement of the course’s learning objectives.

Task overview

This final part of the assignment is a summative evaluation of your weekly journals. Drawing on your weekly journal entries, you are to write a final, summative journal entry of at least 2,000 words.

Your summative learning journal is quite different to your weekly learning journals.

  • It should focus on something that you have learnt throughout the course and demonstrate what you can do better now than what you could do before the course.
  • It must demonstrate the breadth as well as the depth, of what you have learnt.
  • It should provide good evidence of both evaluation and synthesis (Bloom, 1956).
  • It should be based on the ‘data’ from your weekly learning journals, and possible insights you have had as a result of providing feedback on others’ learning journals; you may also draw on other writing you have done for this course..
  • It will probably focus on one or two major takeaways/insights. Maybe three, certainly not five. These are the things that have changed the way you think about qualitative research methods and changed your (planned) behaviour.
  • The summative journal should not focus on being too personal about your experiences throughout the course, but instead focus on how you can apply your learning in the future.

You should strive to demonstrate how you meet the learning objectives of this course, in the context of the postgraduate profile.

General comments on the weekly and summative learning journals

  • For many in the class, this is the first time they will have had to undertake reflective writing. As a result, some people will approach this assignment with some trepidation. For those people, the article by Daudelin (1996) will provide assistance. As you progress, you should find writing journals increasingly easy and natural. As a result, your later journals may be considerably longer than your earlier ones. Because of this, there is no upper word limit for your weekly journal entries.
  • In your learning journals, it is normal and acceptable to use the first person (e.g., I, me, etc.).
  • The quality of your writing matters.
  • Failing to correctly cite/reference material in your journals can incur a minimum 10-percent penalty being applied to your summative learning journal. You should correctly cite your weekly learning journal using an APA formatted references.
  • If it looks like you have ‘blown off’ doing the weekly learning journals it is impossible to get a passing grade for the summative learning journals.
  • In this context, meaningful feedback means that the recipient can unambiguously use it to improve their work within the guidelines provided (in the opinion of the recipient, other classmates, or the teaching staff). If you feel unhappy about the quality of the feedback you receive from your peers, let the teaching staff know.

1.6 Participation

Task objectives

  • To provide an opportunity to practice with the tools and techniques of qualitative research.

  • To gain experience of the consequences of the choice and use of differing tools and techniques of qualitative research.

  • To better prepare you to do qualitative research.

Task overview

I want you to participate so that you can learn from each other. Good participation is known to increases what is remembered, how well it is assimilated, and how the learning is used in new situations. Through participating, you will clarify your own thinking about the content of the course, and you will provide your peers with the opportunity to provide constructive feedback, further deepening your understanding of the material. Likewise, in listening to, and responding to, the participation of others, you will have the opportunity to demonstrate alternate ways of interpreting and applying class material. In a course like this, that stresses the application of material, extensive participation an essential element of students’ learning and of the classes success.

Grading participation

I am a holistic marker, and each class, I will evaluate your participation using the following guidelines:

  • Outstanding Contributor (3): Contributions in class reflect exceptional preparation. Ideas offered are always substantive, and provide one or more major insights as well as direction for the class. Challenges are well substantiated and persuasively presented. If this person were not a member of the class, the quality of discussion would be diminished markedly.

  • Good Contributor (2): Contributions in class reflect thorough preparation. Ideas offered are usually substantive, provide good insights, and sometimes direction for the class. Challenges are well substantiated and often persuasive. If this person were not a member of the class, the quality of discussion would be diminished.

  • Adequate Contributor (1): Contributions in class reflect satisfactory preparation. Ideas offered are sometimes substantive, provide generally useful insights but seldom offer a new direction for the discussion. Challenges are sometimes presented, fairly well substantiated, and are sometimes persuasive. If this person were not a member of the class, the quality of discussion would be diminished somewhat.

  • Non-Participant (0): This person says little or nothing in class. Hence, there is not an adequate basis for evaluation. If this person were not a member of the class, the quality of discussion would not be changed.

  • Unsatisfactory Contributor (-2): Contributions in class reflect inadequate preparation. Ideas offered are seldom substantive, provide few if any insights, and never a constructive direction for the class. Integrative comments and effective challenges are absent. If this person were not a member of the class, valuable air-time would be saved.

If at the end of the course, the majority of your participation was scored with a 3, you mark will reflect a grade in the A-range. I.e., six 3s or more.

If the majority of your participation was scored as either 3 and 2, you mark will reflect a grade in the B-range. I.e., six of your participation scores are 3s or 2s — more 3s move you more towards a B+, more 2s move you toward a B-.

Most other combinations of scoring (1s 2s and 3s) will result in a C-grade. That said, if you only get 1s and 2s you may get a failing grade.

Note, that each instance of a -2 score for participation effectively nullifies you highest previous score; it represents a material penalty.

1.7 Grading criteria

The table below shows the general criteria against which work is assessed. Although ‘grading on the curve’ is not used, it is usual that most students work falls within the B-range.

Grade Description
A+ Rare, outstanding
A Exceptional and beyond what was expected
A- Excellent
B+ Polished and very good
B Covers everything that was expected, comprehensive; demonstrated good understanding
B- Good coverage but minor flaws
C+ Demonstrated adequate understanding of fundamentals, but some gaps
C Just adequate, some problems
C- Just adequate, many problems
D+ Inadequate and lack of understanding
D Very poor

Generally, you should be aware that:

  • Written work is graded for quality of writing, grammar, etc., as well as content. This includes your learning journals, summative learning journals, and the comments and feedback you give to others.
  • APA referencing must be used.
  • In order to be eligible for 100 percent of your course grade, you must participate fully and unequivocally in all of the tasks associated with this course.

Through the assessments you need to demonstrate the depth and the quality of your learning about doing qualitative research methods.