Research - Dr. Eva Mary Bures

Dr. Eva Mary Bures
School of Education

The Use of Online Labelling in Student Learning

One of Dr. Bures’ current research projects explores how to improve online learning through the use of structured online discussion features.  She is examining whether these features help learners improve the quality of their online discourse and their learning when they are required and/or unrequired. Her study also analyses whether students choose to use the features and investigates the usability of these features.
In order to conduct this study, Dr. Bures will use a mixed-method approach.  She will first focus on the pilot testing of the measures and the tools using surveys, content analysis, open-ended interviews and talk-aloud protocols; then, she will look at whether using the features is effective with a series of pre-test control group experiments; and finally she will see how useable the features are from the students’ perspective through multiple-regression techniques, content analyses, and qualitative narrative analyses. 

Computer conferencing as a form of learning has become very pervasive; as a result, Dr. Bures believes that we are increasingly obliged to study it carefully from the human science perspective.  Her work will go beyond descriptive research on unstructured conferencing to explore interventions or scaffolds to online learning that promote meaningful dialogue. Dr. Bures hopes to help learners take advantage of the unique characteristics of the online learning environment, supporting them to annotate their messages and reflect upon messages as they compose them.

Assessing Students’ Electronic Portfolios:
Now That we have Them, How Can We Judge Them?

Dr. Bures’ study aims to create credible, authentic assessment measures for teachers to use to assess student-centred learning in the form of students’ electronic portfolios.  She believes that we need to find meaningful efficient scoring rubrics for translating a collection of student prose, reflections, revisions, video and audio material into authentic judgements of what and how students have learned.  Dr. Bures’ research will develop assessment measures in collaboration with teachers integrating e-portfolios into their classrooms and will develop useful mechanisms to support teachers integrating the e-portfolios, helping them conceptualize and implement effective e-portfolios and assessment practices.

In order to gather information, Dr. Bures will be conducting a mixed-method study. This type of study will draw on a socio-cultural methodology and the design experiment approach where classroom innovations are studied in situ and tools are modified in a cyclical refinement process.  It also employs the quasi-experimental pre-test-post-test control group design so that the researchers are able to gather data on classes where electronic portfolios are used and classes where they are not used. 

In Quebec, more than 20 percent of primary-school students have to repeat a grade before going to secondary school and 70 percent of those drop out of high school.  Students often complain that what they learn in school is not relevant.  Dr. Bures feels that electronic portfolios may help address the lack of engagement in school contributing to a high drop-out rate.  She believes that portfolios provide students with some choices about what to include and how to organize them, and a more naturalistic approach to assessment than standardized tests, which could encourage students to stay in school by engaging their interests or their ‘flow.’  Electronic portfolios can also be used to judge skills relevant to the types of activities students engage in outside of the classroom, such as problem-solving skills, and even their ability to self regulate. 

This study will contribute to both practice and theory, the former by supporting teachers in effectively integrating and assessing electronic portfolios, the latter by helping validate and decreasing our attention rate by making schooling appear more relevant and engaging.