Components of the Study Process
Graduate students begin by reviewing the Learning Guide which lists the requirements for the Learning Week. All texts, readings, cases and other supplemental materials are provided within the course itself with emphasis placed on teamwork and project-centered learning. Courses are taught in small class sections that foster a close sense of community; students work in teams to complete projects, write papers, analyze and document case studies, and prepare class presentations.
Successful course completion depends on following the instructions and guidelines provided in each course syllabus. At the start of each term, students should read the syllabi and learning guides very carefully to fully understand the components and requirements of each of the courses in which they are enrolled. Course requirements include weekly readings, participation, peer assessment tasks, discussion forum responses, written assignments, portfolio and group activities, cases studies and final projects, and quizzes.
The Learning Guide
The Learning Guide shapes the learning experience for the entire week by providing a framework for directing students through the study material and tasks, including instructions on how to approach the weekly tasks.
Research has shown that student participation is directly related to course success. In order to ensure a rich learning experience, students must take an active approach to their studies by being present and involved.
Attendance is measured and recorded from posted responses to weekly Discussion Forum questions, participation in the peer assessment process; and submission of weekly assignments, case studies and final projects.
Students discuss course material and raise issues and questions related to a course in the Course Forum. The Course Forum is regularly monitored by Course Instructors. Participation is not required, but highly recommended.
UoPeople courses use Open Educational Resources (OER) and other materials specifically donated to the University with permission for free educational use. Therefore, students are not required to purchase any textbooks or sign up for any websites that have a cost associated with them. All required textbooks can be readily accessed inside each course, although there may be additional required/recommended readings, supplemental materials, or other resources and websites which students can also access at no cost.
Peer-to-Peer Learning and Assessment
Peer-to-peer learning, a hallmark of the UoPeople program, is central to the learning process at UoPeople. In critiquing the work of peers, students consolidate their own knowledge and skills even as they are contributing to the growth and learning experience of others. Students whose work is being discussed have the benefit of input from multiple sources, which extends their understanding of the concepts. It also fosters deeper learning on the part of the students doing the assessing because they must first consolidate their own level of knowledge and skill before they can do an assessment. Assessing the work of others also helps to develop higher order thinking, communication, and evaluation skills. Students are taught about the evaluation process and, as they progress through their studies, learn how to assess the work of their fellow students with increasing insight and precision.
During the Learning Week following the submission of an assignment, students are given anonymous assignments from other students in the classroom for peer assessment. A student’s final grade is determined both by the work that he or she submits and by the quality of his or her peer assessments. Giving unjustifiably poor or exaggeratedly positive reviews of the work of others brings down a student’s grade as it is a sign that the student has not learned to evaluate the material properly according to the criteria. Students must therefore correctly apply the assessment elements set forth in the rubrics established for a given assignment.
Peer assessment is under the supervision of Course Instructors who monitor peer reviews for anomalies. Because the student’s assignment is assessed three times, Course Instructors identify discrepancies in grading when monitoring the scores of the assessments and may adjust the scoring, as appropriate, or override and re-grade a student’s work where necessary.
Most units require students to complete a Discussion Assignment by posting a well-formed response to the Discussion Assignment in the Discussion Forum. Students must participate in the discussion by responding to at least three of their peers’ postings in the Discussion Forum by rating their submissions and providing substantive written feedback.
Discussion Forums are only active for each current and relevant learning week, so it is not possible to contribute to the forum once the learning week has come to an end. Failure to participate in the Discussion Assignment and/or participate in the Discussion Forum may result in failure of the course.
Most units require students to complete a written assignment. Assignments can vary in type including but not limited to short papers, research-based papers, and case studies. Students first submit their assignments by the required deadline and then assess three classmates’ assignments according to provided instructions in the Learning Guide. Students are expected to provide details in the feedback section of the corresponding assignment’s Peer Assessment Form with an explanation for the rationale of the grade awarded. Failure to submit assignments and/or peer-assessments may result in failure of the course.
Portfolio Activities are tools for self-reflection and evaluation within the context of the course. Designed as a way for students to document and reflect upon their learning process and critical thinking skills, Portfolio Activities encourage students to draw upon their life experiences and what they’ve learned in other courses to showcase their overall growth in developing and sharpening their professional goals.
Portfolio Activities are used as part of the Capstone experience.
Most courses require students to complete work as part of a small group, giving students the opportunity to engage in projects while working on teams. Group work is an important component of graduate level coursework, and allows students to gain a more thorough understanding of the topics covered in a course with their fellow classmates. Unless otherwise noted, students are randomly assigned to groups and are expected to work with their teammates throughout the term.
Courses may contain two types of quizzes – the Self-Quiz, and the Graded Quiz. These quizzes may contain multiple choice, true/false, or short answer questions. It is highly recommended that students complete all quizzes to ensure that they have adequately understood the course material.