Online blogs as a reflective tool - the experience and support needs of a group of international students in Higher Education

David Weatherall

Abstract


This research focuses on the use of online reflective blogging to enhance an undergraduate Level 6 Built Environment Integrated Project (IP) module and analyses the needs and issues of this form of learning for a final year block attendance cohort of 276 international (Malaysian) students at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU). To this group English is a third language, with Chinese (Mandarin) and Malay being their familiar languages. There are cultural differences between this cohort and a similar group from the UK - they are less likely to ‘open up’ for example. This work analyses their support needs and skills in reflective blogging and examines the issues surrounding the use of blogs in providing a reflective mechanism. The research examines student blogs from a quantitative and qualitative perspective to assess whether it is a useful and effective addition to their module learning. The research finds that there are a number of factors which influence the adoption of blogs including assessment, initial and ongoing support. It also finds that feedback is a vital component of the ongoing process of blogging and also identifies the concerns within the cohort of the use of the English language. The report goes on to make recommendations for the continued development of blogging for this cohort of learners.


Keywords


reflection; blogs; learning; feedback; higher education; international students

References


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