Case study: Using a blog to support academic writing in Spanish

hospital experience blog screenprint

Origin

School of Modern Languages
Faculty of Arts
University of Bristol

Tools used

Contact

Beatriz Arias, Beatriz.Arias@bristol.ac.uk

Objectives

  1. To encourage the use of subject specific vocabulary and increase student awareness of writing skills
  2. To help students to reflect on their experiences during their clinical weeks in order to write a report

The image above shows the Blackboard blog used in this unit. Click on the image to see a short video about use of the blog.

Background

Groups of students from the School of Medicine can study a European language open unit at the School of Modern Languages. They are offered the option to study a Spanish unit for Medical Studies. Part of the assessment for this 10 credit unit is to write a 800 word report (in Spanish) on their experiences in hospital during their clinical weeks.

What was done

“As a result of attending the ‘Blending e-learning with your face-to-face teaching’ workshop, I planned a blended learning activity. I created a blog on the Blackboard course supporting the unit, called Hospital Experience Blog. Students could post entries during the clinical weeks in hospitals which are spread out over two terms, describing and reflecting on their experiences, in order to refer back to this when writing up their assessed reports. They were able to post comments or responses to blog entries made by others. This group of students are Spanish Post A-level, and they had to post their comments in Spanish. In their blog entries, they wrote about a typical day at hospital, a special case they had to study and the way the experience was beneficial. They could have 2½-3 months between the first placement and submitting the report, so they could have forgotten what they did, therefore I emphasised to them the importance of posting at the time. I also told the students that I would be looking at the blog and instructions were given to keep blog posts short, so the task would not appear too onerous. I added comments where appropriate, and tried to answer student queries when necessary. I kept looking regularly at blog posts, but as such this was not very time consuming”

Outcomes

The blog provided invaluable opportunities for students' active involvement in their language learning and the use of subject specific vocabulary. Students made use of the blog as a personal journal, making notes which they used subsequently in their written report, which was the outcome for assessment. The blog itself was not assessed but I stressed to students that it would help with the assessed report. Some advantages of using the blog:

  • Opportunity to use content in a written report or project
  • Some students mentioned that the blog came in useful as it helped them to write their final report, e.g. providing greater detail
  • Helped students to reflect upon their hospital experiences

Some quotes from students: “Really benefited from using blog entries during clinical weeks as these helped me to write my final report.” “The blog entries for the clinical experience were very useful when writing the report.”