All posts by Jennie Ferris

Peer Assessment: goals, technology and student perspectives in a large, first-year course


A number of instructors at McGill have been integrating peer assessment (PA) in their courses and have generously shared some of their reflections on the experience.

Lawrence Chen teaches Introduction to the Engineering Profession (FACC 100), a required course for all first-year students in the Faculty of Engineering. During a conversation about his experience with PA, he shared how he implemented PA in this course of approximately 400 students (across two course sections), and shared feedback from his students about their experience.  Continue reading Peer Assessment: goals, technology and student perspectives in a large, first-year course

Preparing students to provide constructive feedback on peers’ work


A number of instructors at McGill have integrated peer assessment (PA) in their courses and have generously shared some of their reflections on the experience.

Carolyn Samuel taught the course Academic English II (CESL 300) for several years through the McGill Writing Centre. In a conversation about her experience implementing PA, she described an assignment, explained how students learn to assess their peers, and offered advice for instructors considering implementing PA in their classes.  Continue reading Preparing students to provide constructive feedback on peers’ work

Peer assessment for sustained engagement in the writing process


A number of instructors at McGill have been integrating peer assessment (PA) in their courses and have generously shared some of their reflections on the experience.

Barry Eidlin teaches Sociological Inquiry (SOCI 211) in the Faculty of Arts. In a conversation about his experience implementing PA, he shared his rationale for using PA, some thoughts about the PA technology he used, and he offered suggestions for instructors who are considering implementing PA in their classes.   Continue reading Peer assessment for sustained engagement in the writing process

Implementing peer assessment for the first time


A number of instructors at McGill have been integrating peer assessment (PA) in their courses and have generously shared some of their reflections on the experience.

Rhonda Amsel teaches Statistics for Experimental Design (PSYCH 305) in the Faculty of Science. During a conversation about her experience with PA, she shared how she implemented it for the first time in a 100-student summer course. Rhonda also offered suggestions for instructors who are considering implementing PA in their classes. Continue reading Implementing peer assessment for the first time

How to find free, interactive resources for your courses


With a nearly limitless, constantly evolving supply of information available on the web, where can instructors find free, interactive resources to complement their courses?

John Shank’s (2014) book Interactive Open Educational Resources offers many resources and starting points for interested instructors. Continue reading How to find free, interactive resources for your courses

Five suggestions for improving students’ writing in your course, regardless of the subject


By Jennie Ferris, Teaching and Learning Services

A recent University Affairs article concisely articulates five key points from John Bean’s book Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom, 2nd edition (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011). Bean encourages instructors to identify assignment genres, inform student of how the writing will be evaluated, provide opportunities for revision, incorporate low-stakes assignments, and inform themselves of services offered by the campus writing centre. To check out the book itself, access the online version; a hard-copy version is also available from the McGill Library [PE1404 B35 2011 [Regular Loan] Humanities and Social Sciences – Education Collection (McLennan Bldg, 2nd floor)]

Readers, what do you think? Have you used some of these approaches, and did they work? What other ways can students’ writing be improved?

McGill Provost reflects on future of the University


By Jennie Ferris, Teaching and Learning Services

What are MOOCs, why are they important, and did you know that the concept was actually developed here in Canada? In his recently published article “Questioning higher education”, McGill Provost Anthony C. Masi reflects upon the disruptive role and possibilities of educational technologies at university, both in physical spaces and (a)synchronous virtual spaces. He identifies three initial challenges for universities brought about by technology-driven changes in learning: “digital natives”’ expectations for technology use in the classroom, helping students develop information literacy competencies, and limitations of existing physical spaces.

The future of universities’ role in education is an open question, with significant change in educational models and institutions anticipated over the upcoming years. There are a number of outstanding questions requiring further exploration with regards to MOOCs, ranging broadly from impact upon alumni relations, to equity for on-campus vs. online students, to support and workload for professors. Noting wryly that the plural of anecdote is not data, the Provost makes the case for the importance of learning analytics in informing conversations on these and other questions.