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Using podcasts to develop students' referencing skills using OSCOLA

Penny English (Anglia Ruskin University) presented a poster on using podcasts to develop students’ referencing skills.

This poster described one project in a wider initiative developing a series of reusable learning objects integrating podcasts with Web-based interactive materials to enhance opportunities for students to develop key academic skills.

A first year law module was redesigned in 2008-09 to include activities encouraging the development of skills in academic writing, the result of having identified specific problematic areas for students in their assessed work the previous year. These centred on the lack of structure in writing, plagiarism and lack of discrimination in the use of electronic sources, referencing and the use of the OSCOLA system. A series of staged tasks was developed using WebCT and wikis specifically targeting these aspects of academic writing skills as part of the process of enabling, encouraging and enhancing student learning.

The poster focused on one particular element – the OSCOLA system used in referencing, a stumbling block for many students. It was decided therefore to embed, as part of the assessment for the module, a short exercise in using OSCOLA. Although a purely technical aspect, becoming familiar with the conventions of academic writing is an integral element in students’ development and progress. Gaining confidence as effective communicators in their written work and becoming familiar with the expectations of undergraduate level writing are key to making a successful transition into higher education.

Although the topic was supported by a face to face session as well as existing online materials only a minority of students (around 10%) fully got to grips with the details. This is one area where it seems that more practice and repetition is needed. Feedback did suggest, though, that many students welcomed the systematic coverage of referencing.

A similar exercise will be used during 2009-10, integrating into the module an online tutorial combining audio explanation with visual material. Students will be able to return to this as often as they wish to reinforce and revise the rules. The effectiveness of this project will be evaluated by comparison between this cohort and the previous year’s.

The poster reviewed the developing body of pedagogical research on the benefits of using visual and audio material to support learning and provided a detailed case study evaluating the impact of this type of project on the students’ ability to master accurate referencing.

About Penny

Penny English is a principal lecturer at Anglia Law School. She has a particular interest in the adoption of innovative modes of assessment and the use of technology to enhance learning, and is the school’s learning and teaching adviser.

Penny has been awarded an Anglia Ruskin Learning and Teaching Fellowship for the project developing podcasts/reusable learning objects to support first year law students.

Last Modified: 9 July 2010