Re-imagining referencing with interactivity


  • Bettina Schwenger University of Auckland
  • Monica Kam
  • Audrea Warner



Referencing, Interactivity, H5P, Active Learning, Online Learning


As educators we have grappled with strategies to teach referencing, a fundamental of digital information fluency. Despite a myriad of resources, errors are common and recurring (Jorgensen & Marek, 2013). Students frequently receive static information on referencing and no immediate feedback.

This paper reflects on the development and evaluation of online resources for explicitly teaching APA referencing in the Faculties of Arts, Business and Science. We designed H5P resources that integrate into individual courses to encourage interactivity (Singleton & Charlton, 2019) and provide feedback for self-assessment (Nicol & Mcfarlane-Dick, 2006). According to Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick’s seven principles of good feedback practice, good referencing practices were first explained, before students were given an opportunity to practice those skills. This was followed by detailed automated feedback. Student performance is recorded so that teachers can begin dialogues and use feedback to improve teaching.

The methodological approach taken aligns with Educational Design Research that aims to address real-life-learning issues through various cycles. Pre-interviews with teaching staff gave a better understanding of the expectations, support and students’ issues in referencing. Following these, students could access the tool and complete a questionnaire about their experiences. LMS and H5P analytics data added another dimension to quantitatively gauge engagement. Focus groups and interviews were conducted to ascertain the effectiveness and identify suggestions. 

The qualitative data results in rich descriptions. The data was analysed in an open-coding approach (Saldana, 2013) for themes that emerged in response to the main questions asked. Student voices provided evidence of identified themes and were indicators of the overall results. Staff insights about the challenges aligned with preliminary results that tertiary students’ previous APA referencing experiences are variable. LMS analytics showed good engagement and students completed the module in about 27 minutes.

Feedback from the trial highlighted the benefits of interactivity and immediate feedback and led to amendments of the online resources. Participants commented, for example, “more practical activities”, and liked the final quiz for its instant feedback. As a result, additional activities were integrated.  Some emerging themes from the trial were the relevance, consistency and practicality of the resources and indicated students’ willingness to use them for self-study.  Feedback in Semester 1 confirmed those themes. From this round of feedback, the usefulness of the resources was highlighted. The evidence of effectiveness is summed up in that all participants would recommend the tool to peers.

As tool development continues, we will present up-to-date data. Further, we consider how these tools might support more faculties and institutions, extending this research to include a suite of referencing resources.






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