Blogs as Research Projects

/ September 26, 2014/ Teaching/ 0 comments


Blogs as Research Projects

Sometimes research papers can be big projects that students intend to work on then don’t till the last couple weeks of the semester. Then there’s and underlying assumption that can shape their attitude and thus the quality of their work: no one is going to read it besides the teacher. What can we do to get students out there, doing research, and feeling connected to their work? And how can we hold them responsible for their work other than to give some projects higher grades and others lower?

A blog may be a good alternative.

In one of the classes I’m teaching now, I’m requiring each student to create their own blog. This blog will be a series of posts that replace a typical research paper. Though I have not done this in a class up to this point, I’m guessing that a research project in a blog format will:

  1. Make sharing student research easier
  2. Make linking to other scholarly and popular information easier (and more instinctive since these students are already used to reading online sources)
  3. Break the project into smaller, less intimidating, writing projects
  4. Allow for both scholarly analysis and informal reflection
  5. Last as a searchable resource for future students and others interested in the topic

Again, I’ve created an assignment description that details exactly what I’m expecting and how their blogs and posts will be graded. And again, I’ve worked responses to other students’ work into each individual’s grade. Yes student, someone else will be reading your work–your classmates first, then me, and then present and future readers on the internet. Will you bore them, awe them, or severely piss them off? Well, it’s up to you.

I’ll have to remember to write a new post after the semester to let you know how their blogs turned out and what I might do differently next time. In the meantime, wish us luck!

Other posts in this series: Blogs as Course Tools and Planning a Course Blog. And be sure to read the last in this series: On Pedagogical Goals and Blogging

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