And so for a month select students have been responding to the diagnostic feedback with some success. Points of note are:
1) One student improved a paragraph of analysis over an hour in an evening From a low d to a b plus. They, as I, were clearly engaged in other activities. The chat facility allowed the student to reflect on how they were improving, which has seen a discernible progression in his ability to signpost his analysis.
2) One student took three weeks of prompting to respond, but when they did, they were able to develop the structure of their essay substantially.
So far, it is apparent that the majority of students will respond three times before they move onto other things. While this diagnostic marking is one to two layers deeper than the usual response to diagnostic marking from students, it has fallen short of my vision of a class-full of students improving their essays until the A-grade standard. This is due to a few points, I think:
a) The prime reason is that there is a separation between the classroom work and the social work. I know all too well the need to not complete certain types of work at home, especially after my body and my spirit begin to unwind at the end of a long day. If students do not have a routine of logging onto the computer to complete study-related tasks at home, then my direction is diluted.
This can be addressed by directing students to work on their essays in school. By doing so, students can better form the culture needed to continue these essays in their own time.
b) The use of Google documents puts a undue strain on the primitive technology currently available for school. In doing so, especially in Asian countries, the availability of bandwidth is poor. Therefore, it only takes a few times for students and staff alike to become disaffected by the lack of reliability in the technology.
Possible solutions to this are to use Skydrive, to use an annotation app, and to print the comments already for the students’ records.
Watch this space.