Tag Archives: writing

What is my teaching approach (or philosophy)? Prompts to help you identify underlying beliefs and values.


Many instructors putting together a teaching portfolio for tenure or promotion find themselves stumped by this question. Maybe you are still relatively new to teaching. Maybe your approach is part personal experience as a former student, part trial and error. Maybe you have found your groove, but you never actually spent any time pondering about your underlying philosophy. So what are you supposed to write in your teaching portfolio? How do you begin? Continue reading What is my teaching approach (or philosophy)? Prompts to help you identify underlying beliefs and values.

Helping Students Communicate Science – Beyond the Classroom!


There’s a new course at McGill. It’s called Communicating Science (CCOM 314). Diane Dechief, a Faculty Lecturer at the McGill Writing Centre, designed the course and is teaching its first run this semester.

I interviewed Diane to learn what the course addresses and how she designed it. The first thing I learned is that communicating science is a growing interest for many scientists.  

Diane explained: There’s a movement, both online and off, toward increasing science communication. It’s a push for academics to become better at talking about their research to non-specialists, and for scientists, in particular, to assert their knowledge, control their message, and communicate with the public more broadly. Continue reading Helping Students Communicate Science – Beyond the Classroom!

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

The benefits of reflective journal writing


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

Publishing’s Wild West Watchdog


When we hear academic integrity, we often think about the student code of conduct which contains policies on plagiarism and cheating. These polices provide explicit boundaries to help guide students towards learning ethical behaviour practises. The polices also empower instructors with clear definitions to help them teach students the nuances of academic writing, research, and ethical work. However, when students cross the boundaries, these policies become the foundation of disciplinary action. But what about professors and researchers? Their research and publishing is not always confined to an institution and is more commonly found in the global ether of academic publishing where journals and publishers set the boundaries. Who monitors their publishing and research and what happens when they cross the line? Enter Dr. Ivan Oranksy, vice president and global editorial director of MedPage Today and co-founder of Retraction Watch, an online blog. Oransky visited McGill as part of the Academic Integrity Day on Feb. 3. His talk, [Retractions, Post-Publication Peer Review, and Fraud: Scientific Publishing’s Wild West] attracted over 150 profs, graduate students, and staff from four Montreal universities. Continue reading Publishing’s Wild West Watchdog

Learning to learn


This post is part of the Aspirations to Action series created as a follow-up to the Teaching What’s Important Symposium.

While from the bounded level of our mind
Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind,
But, more advanced, behold with strange surprise
New distant scenes of endless science rise!
– Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1709

Alexander Pope may have been addressing an audience of literary critics, but his message is  just as applicable to both faculty and students. To judge fairly and wisely – he wrote – be humble, follow nature, and study deeply. So what does it mean to study deeply? Continue reading Learning to learn

Instructors branch out by offering students social media as an alternative to traditional assignments and assessment


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.

Continue reading Instructors branch out by offering students social media as an alternative to traditional assignments and assessment