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SOP - 03 Discussion Activities

REF/ ACCSST/OPS/SOP/DF/100315 

Issue

The Pamoja Learning Model (PLM) aims to promote communication and collaboration between students in higher order learning activities. To this end Pamoja Education courses feature discussion activities that are focused in regard to frequency; instructional design parameters are in place across all courses so that no more than one discussion activity is scheduled per week. This is intended to ensure stimulating and substantial discussion conditions that motivate students to participate with consistency and depth.

 

Rationale

Discussion activities are one of the key course tools used to promote the Approaches to Learning (ATL) essential skill of “Communication” as well as “Social Skills” and “Research Skills”.

In order to promote these skills effectively, optimum conditions are required for discussion activities. These conditions include suitable range of:

  • Discussion types
  • Discussion stimuli
  • Discussion spaces

 

Discussion Types

There are two basic types of discussion activities:

  • Student Initiated Discussion: These discussion activities are not integrated into the course design. They are unplanned, spontaneous activities initiated by students, monitored and managed by teachers as appropriate. They may relate directly or indirectly to specific course objectives and/or content, or general educational issues.  

 

Discussion Stimuli

In order to promote student participation and interest in discussion activities, the stimuli for activities must do the following:

  • Target higher order cognitive activities such as application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation rather than lower order activities such as knowing. Discussion activities should avoid requiring students to simply recollect ideas from course content; they should motivate students to provide their own perspectives on ideas and concepts from the course.
  • Aim to promote an Essential Skill from ATL, where appropriate.
  • Provide students with clear directions on how to write an original post that will address the objectives of the activity, respond to other students’ observations and provoke responses from others.
  • HoDs may use Teacher Notes to develop a “playbook” of discussion activity stimuli that promote specific skills during the course.

 

Discussion Spaces

In order to provide a range of interaction opportunities to students, a range of “spaces” are available in the LMS for discussion activities. A “space” is an instructional unit in which students and teachers are enrolled so that they may benefit from instructional interactions, such as participation in a discussion activty. The instructional “spaces” available (in ascending order of size) are

  • The Class Section
  • The Learning Space
  • The Campus Space 
  • Most discussion activities will currently target the Class Section or Course Space, but there are plans to develop broader discussion opportunities for students in the Campus Space.

Some Discussion Activities will be more suited to certain instructional spaces than others; it is important to ensure that discussion activities are well populated for sufficiently dynamic participation, but not overwhelming for students and teachers. The table below provides guidelines regarding suitable instructional spaces for discussion activities in regard to discussion type and stimuli:

 

Discussion Type

Discussion Stimuli

Discussion Space

Comment

Course Initiated Discussion I

Course Content

Class Section

Similar to the majority of activities in current courses.

An expectation that students read a reasonable number of posts from other students[1] and author an original post[2] .

The forum has a restriction of a start and closing date.

PLM aims to reduce the number of these to a maximum of one per week and make the stimuli more attractive where possible.

Course Initiated Discussion II

Current Events

 

 

Class Section

 

Learning Space

 

Campus Space

 

A discussion activity included in a course after a course has opened and based around a “current event” e.g. Film – the film that wins the Oscar.

Subjects that plan to use this form of discussion will balance their likely number with a reduction in “Course Initiated Discussion I”.

Whether posting in the forum is an expectation will also be decided at the time of creation.

The forum has a restriction of a start and closing date.

Student Initiated Discussion

General Topics

Learning Space

 

 

Campus Space

 

All subjects will have the following student initiated discussion activities

Help Forum – where students can ask for help on course issues, technical issues or any other topic where they require assistance

General Forum - where students can raise issues for discussion or points they wish to make. Not as specific as the “Help” forum and threads may be longer and deal with less specific issues.

These activities will be open for the duration of the course.

The forum is open to all students in the Learning Space and/or Campus Space for all teachers and students to be able to respond to student needs and questions.

There is no expectation of students posting in these activities.

There is an expectation that students are aware of posts in these activities and contribute when relevant.

Students are encouraged to use these activities over email to an individual teacher.

Subjects may have general subject specific activities in addition to the PJE generic activities.

Discussion Activity Conventions

Each course will define conventions for reading and posting in discussion activities relevant to its subject. The PJE Engagement Policy also defines the minimum expectation of engagement for discussion activities. Students need to abide the PJE “Standards and Conventions” for discussion.

Campus Wide Discussion

The Campus Space will provide students with significantly broader opportunities to interact with one another beyond their course specific Learning Space. Discussion activities in the Campus Space may have the following function and focus.

  • Campus wide discussion on a topic relevant to all PJE students (online learning, university application, current events, follow up to a guest speaker, help forum etc).
  • Subject discussion activities allowing all students across subject levels and subject cohorts to interact (e.g. HL and SL students of Year One and Year Two students).
  • Course discussion that can allow students from more than one Learning Space to interact (e.g. all students in Math HL Year 2 discussing the Internal Assessment).
  • Student initiated discussion (e.g. Student Forum or study groups).
  • The Core discussions that consider each ToK, CAS and Extended Essay.

 

[1] At least four posts from other students.

[2] The student does not have to author an original post if the discussion already has multiple threads. However, the student should authored at least one post in a forum that adds to the discussion and does not simply repeat posts authored by other students.

 

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1 Comments

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    Paul Hadjipieris

    A very useful document, clear expectations at the start of the year will set the tone for the rest of the course. 

    Many thanks,

    Paul 

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