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This research evaluates the use of asynchronous online discussion boards in assessment of work-based placement in a social care degree programme. Owing to a scarcity of educational technologies in the programme at the time (pre-COVID), discussion boards were introduced in a pilot endeavour to assess students' reflections on placement experiences. Individualised feedback was pledged from the programme instructors with a view to enhancing their reflective skills and their engagement with their work placement.
Staff and learners’ attitudes and experiences were investigated to identify the effectiveness of using discussion boards for work-based placement. The components of discussion boards for this purpose are identified, and the considerations to be made when implementing discussion boards to support the development of reflection skills are presented.
Using a mixed methods sequential complementarity research design, two student focus groups were held following the distribution of an online survey. Four staff instructors were interviewed about their experiences of and attitudes towards the experience. Finally, a hybrid code adapted from Henri’s (1992) computer mediated conferencing framework and Kolb’s (1984) learning cycle was created to analyse the reflectivity and interactivity in the group discussions.
Whilst discussion boards are useful as a digital platform to foster collaboration and discursive activities, in practice this assessment as delivered fell short of maximising their efficacy. Despite this, four components of discussion boards were identified and key considerations when using discussion boards to encourage reflective activity in social care work-based placement are proposed and discussed.
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