As a practicum student at McGill’s Teaching and Learning Services, I have been examining the role of reflective journals in post-secondary classrooms. Throughout the course of my research, it has come to my attention that, while they are used frequently in the instruction of disciplines like English and Theatre, reflective journals can actually be a helpful learning tool for a much wider range of subjects (Fenwick & Parsons, 2000; Stevens & Cooper, 2009). In fact, they are becoming more popular in law schools, and even in science classrooms (Fenwick & Parsons, 2000; Ogilvy, 1996). Skeptics insist that journal writing is nothing more than busy work for students and a lot of unnecessary extra effort for instructors. However, those who view journals as constructive have demonstrated that, when properly implemented, engaging students in the exercise of journal writing can be beneficial to both students and their instructors. Continue reading The benefits of reflective journal writing
As an aspiring urban planning scholar, I’m frequently exposed to discussions about the importance of creativity to cities. I should preface this by stressing just how multifaceted the field of urban planning is… There are so many ways to approach things in urban planning. It’s both a blessing and a curse really… but that is a story for another day and time.
Right. So. Creativity. Continue reading Creativity (and why it’s important)
This post, featuring Casey McCormick, a PhD candidate and course lecturer in Cultural Studies, and Dr. Nathalie Cooke, a professor in the English Department and Associate Dean, McGill Library, Archives & Rare Collections, is the latest installment in our ongoing series about assessment tools for large classes. On October 17, 2016, Casey and Prof. Cooke were the guest speakers at a session entitled Critical Analysis and Student Engagement: Social Media Strategies. This post provides a summary of the session and access their presentation slides, which include hyperlinks to their assignment details and assessment rubrics.
During an informative, brown bag, lunch session on Friday, March 18th, four professors and three students presented 3-minute lightning talks about their experiences with assessments of specific course assignments. The professors described the rationales for their assignments and spoke about their feedback methods, while the students described their perspectives from the receiving end. The lightning talks were followed by a lively question and answer period that allowed the speakers and audience members to share candid opinions about the topics raised. Continue reading Assessment narratives in en-“lightning” style: Experiences from both sides of the table
What happens when students are asked to write for an audience who knows little about the discipline?” Guest speaker Professor Terry Hébert addressed this question at a November 20, 2015 session entitled Developing Engaged Citizens through Critical Thinking, the most recent event organized by the Assessment in Large Classes Advisory Group.
Every August, I teach a 3-credit course at McGill called Academic English Seminar, which is an academic skills course for incoming undergraduate students who speak English as a second or other language. The course runs 39 hours over 13 days. It’s intended to support students’ transition from high school or CEGEP learning to university learning. Every time I teach the course, I introduce at least one new topic or one new learning strategy. Last year, the new topic was the learning merits of taking handwritten notes versus laptop notes. This year, I introduced students to a study strategy to help them address a question students frequently pose when they’re studying together for a test: What’s the prof gonna ask? The strategy was the application of Bloom’s Taxonomy of levels of learning to the creation of questions as a means for anticipating what information professors might deem important in the readings they assign. I encouraged students to think: Why would the professor have assigned this reading? What are the salient points the professor wants me to draw from this reading? Continue reading What’s the prof gonna ask?
This post featuring Prof. Lawrence Chen is the latest installment in our ongoing series about assessment tools for large classes. On March 17, 2015, Lawrence was the guest speaker at a brown bag lunch session on Evaluation and Feedback for Large Classes. In his presentation, Peer Review as an Active Learning Strategy in a Large First Year Course, Lawrence shared his thoughts on the pedagogy and logistics related to his experience implementing a peer review writing assignment with nearly 500 undergraduate Engineering students, as well as his students’ thoughts on engaging in this peer review task. Continue reading Peer review with 500 students