Jun 012012

Authors: Donald Neil Philip & Danielle Truswell

Following Nagel et al. (2009), we introduce the concept of the Reply Ratio–the number of replies (build-ons) divided by the number of original posts (new notes.) Extending this work, we introduce the Build-On-to-Note Reading Ratio (number of build-ons divided by the number of notes read,) and the Disproportion Ratio, an evenness parameter that is the ratio of the highest number of contributions divided by the lowest number of contributions for a given knowledge building activity.

We apply these ratios to the knowledge building work of SCI396, a third-year undergraduate science education class. Using these data, and triangulating them with social network the pattern of note contributions, we find that the Reply Ratio and the Build-on-to-Note Reading Ratio are not as easy to interpret as they appear. The Disproportion Ratio proved to be easy to interpret, but could be sensitive to students with extreme behaviour.

The Reply Ratio, Build-on-to-Note Reading Ratio, and the pattern of note contributions enabled us to find maladaptive knowledge building strategies: one strategy in which students replied frequently but created few new notes; a strategy in which students created many new notes, but replied to few; and a strategy in which read many notes, but built-onto few; and a strategy of posting notes too late for other students to read. None of these is entirely desirable, and students in the middle of these ratios may be exhibiting more adaptive strategies.

The Disproportion Ratio allows us to see quickly when students are tending to extremes in behaviour. Low values for this ratio indicate evenness; high values, extremes in behaviour. We find that for note reading and building-on the disproportion values are quite even, but disproportionate for annotating others’ notes.

Link to Final Version