New Tools for Training News Reporters: An interactive Scoring e-Textbook Based on Online Assessment
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This research develops a new approach to the development of training inexperienced journalists in news writing using a web-based platform of instruction delivery. E-training is growing in the world as an instructional setting, and offers not only financial benefits, but also a range of specific advantages over the traditional classroom type of setting. Such advantages include the ability to personalise the content of training to the trainees' current competencies, to facilitate regular multi-faceted monitoring of the changes in these competencies and to combine learning with the immediate practising of what was learned.
Two e-training tools have been created and validated in this research: the news text assessment system (NTA) - a comprehensive and effective online scoring rubric, i.e. a matrix describing different levels of competency in several dimensions of the assessed performance - to assess the quality of news writing; and a scoring e-textbook (SET), an asynchronous news writing training tool. The SET is built around the NTA as its core element and contains hundreds of self-learning modules including exercises, examples, instructional texts, and quizzes to be used in a non-linear fashion according to the specific needs of trainees. Both the exercises and the NTA are elements of corrective feedback, which in psychological literature has been shown to be most effective in changing the subsequent performance of trainees.
The two tools help both the trainee and the instructor. They assist the instructor to identify and address journalists' weak and absent competencies in news writing and consistently upgrade the learning modules when needed. They help trainees to monitor their progress and to learn from their own mistakes in the short periods of spare time they have during their work or in other time they can spare for the training.
To create the NTA, 53 top journalism experts, both practitioners and academics, used the prototype of the assessment rubric with 30 criteria of news writing to assess the quality of several supplied news stories. The results were then subjected to statistical analysis and the NTA rubric was created as a compromise between its comprehensiveness and user-friendliness.
To evaluate the NTA and the SET, an experiment was conducted with journalists in one post-Communist country in the form of an action research project, where this researcher was also the instructor. The experiment consisted of four months of training and reflection on its results by both the journalists and the researcher. The results show improvement in news writing competencies to an internationally 'acceptable' news writing standard for most of the trainees. The suggested tools have been well received and the trainees appreciated the interactivity that was provided during the training.