February 23, 2021

Scholarly blogs: An assessment tool to strengthen students’ personal brand

Scholarly blogs: An assessment tool to strengthen students’ personal brand by developing an online presence

Isabel Fischer, Associate Professor Information Systems and Management, WBS

Isabel Fischer photo

Graduates require an increased (professional) online presence and a ‘personal brand’ for career advancement. To encourage students to communicate opinions that matter effectively - and to strengthen their confidence both at the time of writing as well as later on when reflecting back on the blogs - I introduced this term scholarly blogs as a written assignment tool. A scholarly blog builds on the transferrable elements of academic writing and transposes these into a publishable blog.

The remainder of this post outlines how the scholarly blog could be introduced in practice as an innovative form of assessment.

To write their blogs, students are asked to draw on theories and concepts covered in the module as well as in their extended reading. Blogs should demonstrate expert knowledge and thought leadership. The generic marking criteria for assessments can apply, e.g. (1) Comprehension, (2) Analysis, (3) Critical Evaluation, (4) Academic Writing, and (5) Reflection. Students are asked to submit their blog as not yet live but ‘ready to post’, including, for example, images, hashtags and approx. time for reading. The blog should be scholarly and contributing to knowledge, i.e. ‘serious’ rather than ‘colloquial’ and reviewing existing knowledge prior to adding to knowledge. It therefore should be underpinned by extensive referencing to academic literature and to professional reports/posts/webpages. In addition, students can, but do not have to hyperlink their references.

The ideas/content that the blog conveys need to be convincing and should demonstrate critical thinking. The blog should therefore be thought-provoking rather than explaining concepts in a textbook-style-writing. The blog should be seen as written by a subject matter expert and driver for change in a specific field whose opinion matters. The language used should be formal, yet appropriate for a blog, i.e. more informal than an academic journal article. Students might want to write the blog using a first-person positioning (e.g. ‘A recent WBS module on Digital Leadership made me consider…’ or ‘I suggest…’), yet most sentences will not include any writing in the first person (e.g. ‘Miller (2021) raised the point of….’ or ‘If X than Y (see Jones (2020) and Smith (2021)’).

I communicate to students that I expect to see a clear structure in their blog which is aligned to academic writing without using the same headings. For example, students might start in larger letters with an executive summary of the blog which is similar to an abstract. They might then introduce the topic (without calling it introduction) and provide a review of existing material (without calling it literature review). Students are encouraged to structure their main body in different sections using content-related titles in bold before having their concluding thoughts. Students could then show their list of references/bibliography under a heading such as ‘Useful articles in the domain of X’ and adding hashtags to relevant areas.

For further questions or comments on introducing scholarly blogs as an assessment tool please email: Isabel.Fischer@wbs.ac.uk


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