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Dr Wendy Hein

Dr Wendy Hein teaches a postgraduate module called Consumer behaviour. This module covers a wide range of traditions and approaches. Dr Hein uses student-created blogs as case studies.

Blogging for formative assessment

For formative assessment, students keep a blog on a topic related to their own consumer behaviour. Past examples include Korean pop music and the iPhone. In a series of blog posts, they relate the various theories to their practice. Dr Hein uses the blog entries during seminars as live case studies. Students choose specific blog posts and then analyse and evaluate them with reference to the research literature.

Dr Hein reports that not all students kept blogs, as they were not formally assessed. In a cohort of about 70 students, there were 10 -12 blogs that the class looked at repeatedly. She says that it works very well for those students who kept the blogs. Indeed, a few students have now entered careers as bloggers. The blogging software used was either www.blogger.com or www.wordpress.com, both of which are free.

Dr Hein advises that using blogs for formative assessment tends to work better for class numbers of 70 or less. The current cohort has over 100 students which means that blogs are kept by groups rather than individuals and it’s possible that interest may decline.

Group Work

Dr Hein also teaches Public Relations, where the assessment is 100% coursework. 25% of the assessment relates to a group project where students (maximum of 3/group) create a fictional incident for an existing company and write a press release. The students have to agree on the particular organisation on which to focus, the type of fictional critical incident and the ensuing campaign. One student will research the background of the company; one writes a press release; and one will engage with the theoretical framework.  Dr Hein limits the group size to three so that students can divide up the workload easily, and she recommends having an ideal group size in mind when devising group projects. She aims to have enough participants to facilitate a conversation, but not so many that the sense of ownership and responsibility becomes diffuse.

Social Media

The remaining assessment on the module requires each student to choose a company as a case study to follow over a nine-week period. Students are encouraged to set up Google Alerts to keep abreast with any news on the company and to engage with both online and offline resources. Dr Hein advises students to choose the case study carefully because some students have later gained employment with the company they have chosen for this assessment.