- Tutorial Forum (20% + 20%)
Each week a discussion question will be posted on that topic’s Tutorial Forum (except Week 1 and Week 10). The question will involve a contentious issue that arises from the lecture for that topic, and has been designed to elicit evidence-informed opinions, rather than statements of fact. The aim of the Discussion Forum is to get you thinking about issues, to stimulate debate, and to foster interaction between teaching staff and students and among students. You will find the tutorial forum in the Moodle tab for that week’s topic.
What to post
You need to make an initial post that sets out your considered response to the issue. You will not be able to see other people’s posts until you have made your first post. This is so everybody has the opportunity to write on a ‘blank sheet’ to start with. Thereafter you should read other people’s post and make responses as you see fit.
There is no prescribed limit to how long posts should be but initial posts of around 200-250 words would seem about right. Of course, follow up posts may be briefer. Very long posts are discouraged and may be marked down.
Likewise, there is no specified number of posts that must be made each week but obviously it would not be possible to participate in a ‘discussion’ with just one post. You are encouraged to enter into a discussion by responding to other posts and stimulating new responses. Responses need to be more than a token (such as ‘Good point’). The posted question is intended merely as a starting point for discussion – you can take the discussion in whatever directions you choose that might help explore issues raised that week.
We are not after mini essays. Think of this as a friendly debate among colleagues. You do not need to provide a formal reference list but your posting should show a familiarity with the literature and provide evidence to back up assertions. For example, you can mention specific studies, researchers and theories, and provide links to other sites if you wish. The basic message is that it is quality not quantity that we are after (see the marking criteria below).
Teaching staff will monitor the forum and also make post contributions.
Note: The Forum may at times deal with sensitive issues about which people can have strong opinions. It goes without saying that courtesy and respect for others is expected at all times. Abusive or discriminatory language will not be tolerated.
When to post
The forum will be open 9.00am on the Monday of the relevant topic week, and close 9.00am the following Monday (after which a new forum will be opened). You will not be able to post outside of these times. Please note that there is an approximate 30 minute delay once you’ve made your post before you can see others, so don’t worry if you can’t see other people’s posts immediately.
There are 5 marks available each week (except Week 1 and Week 10), thus 40 marks for the term. The marking criteria are shown in the table below. Partial marks (0.5, 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, 4.5) may be awarded where it is judged the responses fall between two criteria. See the bottom of this page for a link to an example of what an initial post might look like.
|0||No posts or just token entries|
|1||Posts that are purely opinion without any supporting argument or evidence.|
|2||Considered posts that are well reasoned and rely on evidence to support arguments. However, post do not show any real engagement with other posts on the forum, that is, they do not form part of an ongoing discussion.|
|3||Considered posts that are well-reasoned and rely on evidence to support arguments. The posts show low engagement with other posts on the forum.|
|4||Considered posts that are well reasoned and rely on evidence to support arguments. The posts show good engagement with other posts on the forum, that is, they form part of an ongoing discussion.|
|5||In addition to the criteria for 3, posts that show a particularly insightful understanding of the issue. Such posts may: demonstrate recognised expertise in a relevant area; introduce new insights or points; take the discussion in a new and fruitful direction; and propose new topics or issues for discussion.|
Note: past experience has shown that this is an activity that many student neglect to their regret. A good mark on the forum can mean the difference between a failure and merit, or a pass and distinction. Failure to engage on the Tutorial Forum has been the single biggest cause of students failing this module.
Exercise: Every now and again a ‘humorous’ newspaper article appears reporting cases of property owners (e.g, shopping mall owners) using classical music to deter young people from loitering. This idea has been taken even further, with some companies now selling anti-loitering devices that emit noises that young people find unpleasant. Look at the two examples of this strategy at the following websites. One is a Los Angeles Times article about the effectiveness of classical music in deterring loiterers. The other is a company that sells ‘anti-teenager alarms’.
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