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Greg Niemeyer and MacKenzie Alessi at DHSI

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BCNM Director Greg Niemeyer and Certificate candidate and Digital Humanities intern MacKenzie Alessi presented on “Quantifying Discourse” at the Berkeley Digital Humanities Summer Institute on August 17th, 2015. Greg had worked with ETS to create an “engagement index” for his Data Arts course. The platform allowed students to rate and leave comments for their peers, and gain points based on their level and type of participation. He then hired MacKenzie Alessi to help him analyze the incredible amount of data on learning produced by this pedagogical experiment.

What the team discovered was that there was little correlation between engagement and students’ final exam score. This bolsters the notion that exam testing does not always adequately assess students’ learning. They also found that the engagement score itself was easily able to be manipulated as students “gamed the system” by engaging only at the end of the semester, or organizing events where friends helped increase their engagement. This was why studying the network of connections made over time proved to be far more informative.

Check out the highlights below!

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