P70408 Assignment brief


Supporting online learners: A reflective commentary on diversity in student learning in online environments

Task type:

A written reflective essay of 2000 words (not including references and appendices).

Submission requirements:

This assignment must be submitted on or before 23:00 GMT on 16 May 2014.

You must submit your assignment via the course assignment dropbox (in the P70408 tab).

Formative feedback

You are urged to send an early draft by email to the module leader for formative comment. You may do this anytime up to 2 weeks before the final submission date. Feedback will not be provided on drafts submitted after that date.


This reflective assignment is based on a critical incident analysis of your work in supporting online students in either (or both) an academic or a pastoral matter. You may, for example, choose to reflect on your work with an individual student who requires support, or a group of students. If you do not have experience of supporting online learners then you may draw on your experience of being an online learner.

In either case your analysis of the incident should be from the perspective of how best for the teacher to support the learner(s). Examine whether and how the support issue(s) manifest differently between an online environment and a more traditional on-campus one. You will need to explore specifically the issues of diversity and teaching inclusively within your account. In the case under examination, how does online teaching and support compare with more traditional face-to-face teaching in regard to access and inclusivity? You are expected to apply relevant theory and educational research in your analysis of the incident. You should discuss the implications of your reflections for your future practice, for example in the form of an action plan.

Structure and format of the assignment:

You should provide the following in your assignment:

  • A cover page that includes your name, the title of the assignment and the word count (2000 maximum, excluding references and appendices).
  • Briefly describe the critical incident
  • Reflect, including reference to literature, on what happened and why. Examples of questions that could help you to reflect include:
    • Why did this incident stand out?
    • What was going on? Were there unanticipated levels of 'behaviour' or activity?
    • Did you bring personal bias or a particular mind-set to the event?
    • How could you have interpreted this event differently from another point of view? How do you know the impact of your actions in this incident? How did you modify your analysis after talking to colleagues, students, or further investigation?
    • What can you learn from this episode, or how have you resolved the issue that it suggests?
    • Use the literature and established practice (your own, your colleagues, or from case studies of teaching) to show how you seek to develop your future practice in light of this critical incident.

Learning outcomes for the assignment:

It is expected that this assignment will allow you to demonstrate the following learning outcomes:

  • explain the characteristics of online communication and use strategies for communicating effectively in the online environment
  • apply key theoretical concepts to designing online learning environments and supporting online learners
  • design and use a repertoire of appropriate online activities including generating online activities from familiar offline tasks
  • analyse, using a variety of evidence types, online learner support problems and recommend appropriate responses
  • effectively use a variety of digital technologies for learning and teaching, including collaborative writing tools and both synchronous and asynchronous learning environments
  • identify your continuing professional development needs and aspirations within higher education

Alignment with UK Professional Standards Framework:

This assignment partially covers the following aspects of the UK PSF:

A2 - Teach and/or support learning.

A5 - Engage in continuing professional development in subjects/disciplines and their pedagogy, incorporating research, scholarship and the evaluation of professional practices.

K3 - How students learn, both generally and within their subject/ disciplinary area(s).

V1 - Respect individual learners and diverse learning communities

V2 - Promote participation in higher education and equality of opportunity for learners

V3 - Use evidence-informed approaches and the outcomes from research, scholarship and continuing professional development

V4 - Acknowledge the wider context in which higher education operates recognising the implications for professional practice

Marking Criteria:

It is expected that this assignment will cover your teaching and/ or your support for learning (A2). You will also be expected to demonstrate your engagement with your own professional development (A5)

The assignment will be assessed against the following marking criteria:

Core Knowledge – you will be expected to demonstrate your knowledge of how students learn in general and in your discipline (K3)

Reflection and evaluation - you will be expected to reflect on and evaluate your teaching and/ or support for learning (A2)

Professional Values - you will be expected to demonstrate your commitment to the values of individual respect for learners (V1) and equality of opportunity for learners (V2)

Critical Analysis & Synthesis and communication – you will be expected to critically analyse the activity from an evidence-informed perspective using research and/ or literature and demonstrate a commitment to using such literature to inform your future practice (V3). You will also need to place your experience in the wider context of higher education and what this means for your practice (V4)

Last modified: Wednesday, 26 February 2014, 12:28 PM