Understanding Student Experiences of Renewable and Traditional Assignments

In the spring of 2021, 8 faculty members from the Northeast region of the United States participated in professional development in open pedagogy through a community of practice setting facilitated by the New England Board of Higher Education’s Fellow for Open Education, through Lindsey Gumb, also a Roger Williams University faculty member and librarian. Specifically, these faculty learned how to support and engage students in the design and completion of “renewable assignments.” Assignments are renewable in that they have value outside of the classroom and can be openly shared through the application of Creative Commons licenses. We surveyed students who were enrolled in the classes taught by these faculty members on their motivation for assignments and social justice issues. Students reported substantially higher interest, choice, pride, and relatedness with peers for renewable compared to traditional assignments. Importantly, students reported higher levels of representational justice, in which voice and agency are equitable, with renewable assignments. Students who publicly shared reported lower levels of pressure and higher levels of competence than students who chose not to share. Across students, there were high levels of reported understanding of Creative Commons licensing, privacy issues, and the value of sharing, indicating that students were well informed about the unique nature of their renewable assignments. Students also reported that the materials in their courses with renewable overall had higher levels of recognitive justice, in which diversity is acknowledged and respected, then materials in their other courses. All levels of background knowledge are welcome and the audience will be engaged with small group discussions and polls.
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