Online tools for assessment and engagement in large classes

This post featuring Prof. Ken Ragan is the latest installment in our ongoing series about assessment tools for large classes. On October 7 from 8:30-10:00 a.m., Prof. Ragan will be the guest speaker at a breakfast workshop on “Evaluation and Feedback for Large Classes”. For details and to register, go here.
“Experiment. I used to feel like I couldn’t experiment.”

One might imagine that experimentation would occur naturally in an undergraduate physics course – and indeed, the biweekly laboratory sections of Physics 101 are abuzz with students engaged in active discovery. But what about in a lecture hall filled to the brim with nearly 700 students: is there a place here for experimentation as well? Professor Ken Ragan thinks so, especially when it comes to trying out new ways of engaging, giving feedback, and assessing his students. Continue reading


Click record: Hi, [name]. I’ve just finished reading your paper and I’d like to give you some feedback …

Thus begins the audio recorded feedback I provide students with on their oral and written assignment drafts. When I refer to audio feedback, I mean assignment feedback I give to students in the form of an audio recording. This means of feedback is an effective and efficient alternative to providing students with handwritten comments. Continue reading

PassNote from Purdue University

PassNote: A feedback tool for improving student success

Purdue University has developed a very interesting tool (PassNote) to help streamline formative feedback to help both instructors and students. It was featured in the September issue of Educause Review Online: “PassNote: A Feedback Tool for Improving Student Success“. It is a free tool that can be used by any instructor without a login. Instructors are provided with “feedback prompts” that can be drag and dropped into a message, copied to the clipboard, and sent to students. Purdue provides a summary below: Continue reading


Graduate Student Development: A Student Perspective

I am a second year graduate student in the beginning stages of my Master’s thesis. Although the new academic year has barely begun, I already feel like I am behind – and that I am overburdening my supervisor with questions and material to review. Applying for funding, finding and organizing research, teaching undergrad courses, applying for ethics approval, not to mention writing my thesis, are all causing me to resort back to my old coping mechanism: nail biting. Being a graduate student, I can only begin to imagine the amount of work on my supervisor’s plate before receiving my lengthy email asking to meet for advice on this or that (in some cases, this AND that). One way for supervisors to assist graduate students without burdening themselves is becoming well acquainted with the offerings of McGill’s SKILLSETS program. Continue reading

Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons

Welcome back McGill – Here’s some things you may have missed

Welcome back! We hope you have had a great summer.

Here at TLS we are planning a number of great things for the blog over the next six months.

In the meantime, we thought we would highlight the most popular posts from last year:

Title Views
Instructors: stop putting your Powerpoint slides on-line 1,973
Learning to Teach: 10 tips for Professors 480
A conference for undergrads: assessing students in large classes using posters presentations 277
Too many assignments to grade? Assessment tools for large classes 205
Teaching in Higher Ed 101 – A Reflection From a First-Time “Lecturer” 163
Short written assignments for large classes 154
Relaunching the Teaching for Learning Blog 135
Active learning in large classes: a gallery ‘walk’ with a 100 students 113
Using social media and mobile technology in the classroom 104
What busy profs would like to read in a blog post about active learning 102

What teaching and learning topics are you interested in reading over the coming academic year?

Post your comments below to help guide our stories over the coming months.

The value of a liberal arts education

Postmodernism debunked- “As debunkers, they contribute to a cultural climate that has little tolerance for finding or making meaning”! It’s not enough to simply be critical. Achieving consensus is just as important in my opinion. Here is a good article describing what we lose when we teach our students to equate intelligence with criticism. Some of my colleagues think a year of Liberal Arts should be mandatory for every student! I don’t think this is a bad idea!

Discussing what matters in higher education.


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