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Tackling student referencing errors through an online tutorial

Kendall, Margaret (2005) Tackling student referencing errors through an online tutorial. ISSN 0001-253X

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Abstract

Purpose – To evaluate the impact of an interactive online tutorial aiming to improve student citing and referencing practice. Design/methodology/approach – Action research involving three cycles of activity: identification of the most frequently occurring errors made by new undergraduates and postgraduates following instruction in citing and reference practice given in the autumn of 2002; creation of the tutorial for use by the same students in spring 2003, with the quizzes contributing to a portfolio assessment for the undergraduates. Comparison of the students’ performance before and after using the tutorial, monitoring through WebCT tracking facilities and usability tests with dyslexic students; adoption of the tutorial as the standard departmental practice, repeating the monitoring activities to compare the results with the previous year. Findings – The results of the first cycle of activity showed a high number of errors, despite the instruction received by students, and the need to start the tutorial at an unanticipated basic level. The students responded positively to the tutorial and some improvements in practice were identified, although the tracking facilities revealed limited use by some undergraduates. Comparison of the errors made in 2003-2004 with those of 2002-2003 showed improvements all round. Research limitations/implications – Some of the improvements may be accounted for by the change of practice part way through the previous academic year and other interventions. Originality/value – The methods used will inform others wishing to carry out and evaluate online learning initiatives. It shows a qualified success in the use of online learning for this purpose.

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