Annotated Bibliography

Abfalter, D., Zaglia, M. E., & Mueller, J. (2012). Sense of virtual community: A follow up on its measurement. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(2), 400–404.

Abfalter, Zaglia and Mueller seek to explore the sense of virtual community (SOVC) and test the suitability of Chavis et al.’s SCI2 index for this purpose. Their results showed that the SOVC, though adequate, needs continuing work. The study used a well-known German community that targeted older users. This in itself may constitute a limitation for this study, as older adults may have specific patterns of use and expectations of community that may not be generalizable. The authors identify elements within the study which have limited applicability to online communities, such as personal presentation and identity. This paper is useful, though not central, as I am interested in the tension between qualitative and quantitative epistemologies and methodologies, and in particular, the grey area of intersection where survey data, rather than marrying the two, is rather subtractive, both statistically inadequate and failing to capture individual experience.

Babaii, E., Taghaddomi, S., & Pashmforoosh, R. (2016). Speaking self-assessment: Mismatches between learners’ and teachers’ criteria. Language Testing, 33(3), 411–437.

This study compares English as a Foreign Language learners’ self-evaluation of their recorded spoken presentation with that of their teacher, before and after their being provided with a list of agreed-upon scoring criteria followed by a practice session, matches that of their teachers. The study used a convenience sample of 29 Iranian English learners. Assessments were conducted both before and after being provided with written grading criteria. The study found significant difference between the participant’s self-assessments on both occasions, though noted that provision of grading criteria and a practice session reduced the discrepancy. A reflective component revealed that the learners found the process of self-assessment useful, but noted some reservations regarding reliability (possibly due to lack of proficiency), its time-consuming nature, and the need for exemplars. It’s also worth noting that public speaking is considered stressful by most individuals, and this may have influenced participant’s self-evaluation. The authors suggest that further study with additional task types and types of language proficiency would be needed to evaluate the usefulness of self-evaluation in minimizing perceptual mismatches.

I chose this study because self-evaluation is closely tied with the idea of reflection; reflective writing is, in a sense, a form of self-evaluation. It provided a non-writing context, related to the practice of teaching in that teaching often involves verbal presentation.

Blanchard, A. L. (2008). Testing a model of sense of virtual community. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(5), 2107–2123.

Blanchard explores the tension between individuality and social unity. She draws in identity and social identity theories, and social exchange theory (based on the concept of reciprocity: individuals feel a sense of mutual obligation & expect fair play). Study 1 involved 216 members of five social online communities, two listerves and three usenet newsgroups. Study 2 involved 277 members of a bulletin board, more analogous to current social media modes. Surveys were used to measure attitudes about group norms and individual behaviour. The author notes limitations in the first survey design in that items measure perception, rather than actual behaviour, and sought to address these in the second study. Unfortunately, while comparatively recent, the study is already old, in internet terms; the communities under discussion are email listservs and usenet, which have a particularly asynchronous, threaded and text-based modes that are increasingly outmoded.

Blanchard concludes that the experience of virtual community is generated by mutual support within the community, the identity of self and fellow member, as well as interacting with those outside of the virtual community.She notes that creating identities and exchanging support creates group norms which reinforce this sense of virtual community, providing a beneficial, pro-social environment.

Boud, D., & Falchikov, N. (1989). Quantitative studies of student self-assessment in higher education: a critical analysis of findings. Higher Education, 18(5), 529–549.

This paper focuses on quantitative self-assessment, using numerical grades, rather than generalized qualitative measures, as a means of self-evaluation. It looks at the comparison of student and teacher grading, and considers factors that may influence self-evauation, particularly student level of competency, course type, type of assessment (formative vs summative), gender differences, and the effect of practice.

Boud and Falchikov observe that accurate self-assessment is an attribute of ‘good’ learners, and that learners need guidance in developing this important skill. Their methodology discusses the rationale, but does not entirely state the approach taken; though it appears to be something akin to a modified meta-analysis, Slavin’s ‘synthesis of best evidence’. The authors evaluate a wide selection of research on the topic, highlighting some limitations. They note that there is little consistent evidence for under- or over- rating in self-assessment, with some trends – notably experience with self-assessment – but no consensus. They note that able students in new subjects tend to overestimate their ability, and that weaker, or less mature students also tend to overestimate.As a now dated study, it would be interesting to further investigate this literature to see whether the authors’ recommendations for further studies have been taken up.

I’m interested in this paper as a quantitative perspective on self-evaluation. Its main value at this point is in raising and answering some questions around the practice, and as a signpost to future literature.

Burke, P. J. (2008). Writing, power and voice: Access to and participation in higher education. Changing English, 15(2), 199–210.

Burke interrogates the epistemological position and hegemonic power structures embedded in academic writing practice. She observes that while articulating a position of inclusiveness, the deficit-based model of literacy education in the institution continues to exclude, and explores the idea of text as participatory. Burke discusses the role of voice, noting the distinction between first-person and academic third. (I suggest that the use of third person may consist not, perhaps, as an erasure of self, but rather as a positioning of self as expert, a raising of voice and enactment of authority that may not sit comfortably on those usually silenced, subordinated or excluded.) The paper as a whole is thought-provoking, given the constraints of contemporary educational practice, and particularly online education, and will provide some central themes for my work in the coming months.

Gallagher, S. E., & Savage, T. (2013). Cross-cultural analysis in online community research: A literature review. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 1028–1038.

This paper is a literature review on comparative cross-cultural online community. It is already somewhat outdated, with reviewed works published in 2000 and 2011, but the core issues may still remain current; the location and scale of online communities may have changed, but many issues remain constant. Gallagher and Savage note that uncontrolled variables can make it difficult to compare dissimilar cultures. They caution against the use of student groups for this type of study, and also observe that a single large community cannot be a basis for generalization. The authors identify three key issues arising from their analysis, each of which is relevant to the online environment at CSU. The first of these is the use of geographical countries as a unit of culture, when these boundaries have limited relevance in a global internet; they also discuss problems with defining the concept of online community, and the impact of theory on cross-cultural online community analyses.

This research is relevant to my work in online education, as the issues of global relevance pertain to my students on an individual level, as well as with regard to CSU’s focus on global citizenship as part of our graduate learning outcomes.

Kahu, E. (2011). Framing student engagement in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 38(5), 758–773.

This paper takes a particularly interesting approach in considering student engagement from multiple perspectives. This provides the reader with an unusually complete picture, applying behavioural, psycho-social, socio-cultural and ‘holistic’ lenses. This latter is not particularly well defined, roughly described as ‘drawing together diverse theory’ (p.764). Rather than producing a generalized theory, Kahu creates a student-centerd framework that allows the reader to identify useful features from various perspectives. Student engagement is a salient issue for my work in online learning. I’m particularly interested in this framework as a way to orient potential research projects; in particular, the inclusion of structural factors that are often neglected in engagement analytics.

Madden, T. M. (2015). Reimagining Boundaries: How ePortfolios enhance learning for adult students. International Journal of ePortfolio, 5(1), 93-101. Retrieved from

As a teacher of adult distance education students, I was struck by this paper’s suggestion that eportfolios were a way to encourage the student to bring their ‘whole selves’ to the learning experience, engaging in meaningful reflection, celebrating lifelong learning even in the context of their demanding lives. The authors propose engaging with narrative and identity storytelling as a way to break the paradigm of the disengaged distance student. While these ideas are appealing, the paper itself lacks substance, describing some examples of portfolio work but without a meaningful methodology or sampling. As an educator, I need to be fully informed; evidence needs to account for the ‘failures’ as well as the successes.

Pagani, L., Argentin, G., Gui, M., & Stanca, L. (2016). The impact of digital skills on educational outcomes: evidence from performance tests. Educational Studies, 42(2), 137-162. doi:

Pagani, Argentin, Gui and Stanca seek to assess the impact of digital skills on educational outcomes, evaluating performance tests of Internet skills against an Italian National Assessment in secondary schools. This study sheds useful light on the family, school and classroom variables, differentiating mere ownership from competence, and basic operational skill from information-seeking ability. and finds that internet skills have a positive effect on academic achievement; for my Adult and Vocational Education students, the stronger effect in technical and vocational schools is of note. The implication that these skills potential to be an equalizer for students with lower academic performance is also of interest. The study is refreshing in its combination of robust statistics incorporating a more qualitative sensibility with regard to student experience and characteristics. However, these statistics are not particularly well explained – significance doesn’t indicate clinical or practical relevance, so the effect sizes and the meaning of test scores needs some investigation.

Wood, D. (2015). Problematizing the inclusion agenda in higher education: Towards a more inclusive technology enhanced learning model. First Monday, 20(9). Retrieved from

Wood notes that efforts at inclusivity often ‘further disenfranchise’ the students who should be most supported. Programs are developed by ‘first world’ states and aim to manage and equalize, rather than empower. Technology which should be enabling are, in fact, disabling, and disability itself is approached through a biomedical model and again to be ‘managed’. This paper is challenging, in that it introduces the biopsychosocial model and cultural historical activity theory, but valuable in that it equips the reader with some theoretical underpinnings with which to engage with the concepts of inclusive design. The paper has some limitations, spending considerable time discussing a 2009 case study using an effectively defunct platform (Second Life).