Lessons learned from this year’s college blogging assignment

So now it’s time to do a little self-reflection on the self-reflection assignment.

Next week will mark the official end of the 2013 St. Lawrence College Writing for Marketing blogging assignment.

It's time to self-reflect on the self-reflective assignment

It’s time to self-reflect on the self-reflective assignment

First-year advertising students will have spent the last two months reflecting weekly through blogging about what they are learning in their classes.

The students who worked hard and tried to learn from their mistakes grew as writers. They are more conscientious proofreaders. They understand the basic concepts of writing for business and demonstrating critical thinking in their writing. They have also practised using specific examples and evidence to back up their opinions and stated facts, and they have learned to cite the sources of their evidence. They’ve also developed some comfort with the concept of blogging and the WordPress blogging tool.

But what have I learned?

I’ve learned that this assignment must change.

The marking, as I’ve said before, is a killer for this killer assignment. So I plan to make some big changes for next year based on my own experiences and as a result of feedback from my wonderful students:

  1. Next year, I’ll double up assignments, so instead of students having to write a media release, persuasive message and an ad report on top of their weekly blog posts, they’ll write each of these assignments as a weekly blog post.
  2. I will give students specific direction each week as to what they are to write about. For example, one week they will have to write about what they learned in their presentations class and another week they’ll have to write about what they are learning in their marketing class. And so on. This will force students to focus reflection on a particular course each week. Some weeks, of course, they’ll have to do the ad report or that press release or the persuasive message.
  3. On the weeks when students are writing about another instructor’s course, I’ll enlist that other instructor to mark those blogs. Using my simple checklist, it shouldn’t be a huge chore. I’ve already achieved partial buy-in from my colleagues on this. I’ll keep working on the others.
  4. I may only mark three of the eight weekly posts instead of the four I did this time. I found that students generally did a superb job of evaluating one another’s posts—once I started handing out zeros for failing to provide specific and helpful comments to their peers in their peer evaluations.
  5. I’m going to change the evaluation checklists so that students must state right up at the top the reason that they are writing on that particular topic that week. This will provide what we journalists describe as the “nut graph,” the paragraph that tells the reader exactly why that article has been written.
  6. I may also change the checklist so that bloggers have to provide a structure. This would include an attention-grabbing intro, a supporting graph that explains the intro and leads into the body (this is the nut graph), at least three paragraphs of supporting info to support the point being made, and a memorable close that drives home the point.
  7. I will have students evaluate the blogs of students who are not in their class. We have two sections of advertising students, so Section 101 will evaluate Section 102’s blogs and vice versa. This way, students will feel more comfortable being frank in their peer evaluations.
  8. The comment section will provide explicit instructions. Student evaluators will be directed to provide “useful” and “specific” feedback to the blogger. So, if they find grammar errors, they’ll have to provide examples of the problem instead of just stating, “Be careful with grammar errors.”

I’m sure there’ll be even more changes to come. And when they do, you’ll be the first to know.


Here are this week’s top blogs (please note that one section was assigned to write ad reports. The other section is writing its last blog posts):

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 2.18.13 PMLaura Novoa reflects on the blogging assignment in My Experience as a Blogger and its usefulness as more than a learning experience.

Hanna Speer warns that Coca-Cola commercials that suggest the sugary beverage will bring happiness are dangerously misleading. Read about it in Coca-Cola Healthy…What?

Kassandra Deguire reveals that Youtube actually has to follow guidelines for advertising that prevents children from seeing inappropriate ads in Marketing Gets to Us All!

Do you know what an ear worm is? Read Victoria Butler’s amusing post Get Your Skis Shined Up to find out.

“Are you Clark enough?” Find out in Andrea Bedford’s latest wittily-written post by the same title.

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 2.36.01 PMBrent Goff, who has made the top 10 list most weeks, writes about The Importance of Teamwork.

Superhero movie fans rejoice. The new X-Men trailer is out. Adam Wemp analyzes it in his ad report card Is it out yet? This is a model ad report and one of my favourites this year.

In her ad report card, Sky Bonner shares the Carrie movie ad prank that has gone viral. Check out her report here.

Sara Mcleod reviews the latest Buick Enclave video ad and evaluates whether the company has been successful with this commercial in The Refreshed Buick Enclave ready for your post-vacation bluesSome research went into investigating the product’s main challenge.

Dodge and Paramount Pictures have teamed up to create an ad that both sells cars and promotes the new Will Ferrell movie Anchorman 2. Read Ciera Jones’s evaluation of that ad in Gum for Days!

About teachingteacher

Business communications instructor, journalist, corporate communications writer and media trainer ... and Masters Candidate M.Ad.Ed.
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