With the recent focus on outcomes for learning, I decided to provide students taking the first on-line course at Albany Law School with written goals for the semester. The following was posted for the students:
By the end of the course, students who participate fully should be able to:
1) APPLY acquired knowledge of government ethics laws in general, and regulations that apply specifically to government lawyers, statewide and nationally to challenges facing individuals who work in the public sector at any level of government in any state;
2) RECOGNIZE & EVALUATE differing perspectives surrounding the public policy goals and dynamics of regulating the conduct of public officials and employees, and the roles of the various oversight agencies involved in the education, enforcement and prosecution of public actors for alleged civil and/or criminal wrongdoing;
3) EXAMINE CRITICALLY laws (existing and proposed), policies, systems and structures which govern those who work in the public sector as well as those in the private sector who interact with government employees to identify applicable laws, loopholes and opportunities; and
4) DEMONSTRATE COLLABORATION/COLLEAGIALITY AND PROFESSIONALISM through participation in the active on-line and team learning aspects of the course which will be essential to effective client counseling and representation and/or negotiation in the development of ethics laws and regulations.
Naturally, students want to know how they will be evaluated. This required a lot of consideration for an on-line class. When I previously taught the course I told the students I expected that they follow the Law School’s published attendance policy, and that class participation and completion of assignments would count towards their grade. Since the course was taught seminar style, in lieu of an exam, students were required to submit a 20-25 page research paper at the end of the semester. The paper was weighted significantly in calculating grades.
After reflecting on the goals to make sure that the students were being evaluated appropriately based on the desired outcomes, I developed the following grading rubric:
Assessment/Grading: Your performance will be assessed throughout the semester as you participate in on-line discussions, and complete wikis and other assignments. The amount of time you spend on-line in the course site and its various component assignments, combined with the quality of your postings which should reflect the knowledge and skills you acquire as the semester goes on, will be incorporated the feedback you receive during the semester as well as in your final grade.
Effort reflected by time on line 25%
Completion of all assignments and discussions 25%
(quality demonstrating reading and reflection of materials and other student comments)
Accurate and comprehensive completion of 25%
Accurate and comprehensive completion of group 25%
In future postings I will describe the discussion boards, the use of wikis and the group project. To determine time on line, which is the closest I could come to an attendance policy for an on-line course, I told students I would view the “activity” reports provided by TWEN. I cautioned students that I would be able to tell who simply logged on to the TWEN site and then left for a couple of hours with the browser open to make it appear as though they were actively engaged in reviewing information on the site.
Patty Salkin, Albany Law School