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jspohrer's picture

WestChester University's RECAP2014

Philly-area faculty and IT's looking to develop academic technology skills and strategies should check out Westchester University's RECAP conference and hands-on workshops. This year's themes include mobile pedagogy; engaging students; assessment; universal design; and using technology to develop critical thinking and other soft skills. Technologies discussed include both commercial and open-source options. For more information and to register, see

blendedlearning's picture

Peer Response vs. Peer Grading

Peer response is a tested and respect teaching strategy. By reviewing and critiquing peers' work, students are expected to both help one another advance their projects, but also to gain insight into their own work. Ideally, it fosters reflection and self-awareness. It's less about evaluation and more about adding an extra dimension, and particularly a hands-on dimension, to the learning process. Peer grading, as John Warner of Just Visiting writes, is another story. The idea behind peer grading is, apparently, to reinforce the "right answers" by givving students the time and the incentive to reflect on them. For assessments like multiple choice or, to use Warner's example, spelling tests, peer grading would probably work just fine. But for the kind of work which liberal arts institutions encourage, peer grading does students a disservice. The problem isn't the actual scoring process -- students are probably capable of assigning grades -- but not of providing the kind of high quality feedback that really helps learning. It is the knowledge and experience of the professor which produces effective feedback, and relying on peer grading deprives students of this crucial opportunity to engage in dialogue with professors. Response is really for learning about your own work, which makes peer response useful and valuable. But grading is meant to help the person being graded, and that takes a more practiced hand.

blendedlearning's picture

Writing Better Multiple-Choice Questions

In a series of posts on the Teaching Professor Blog, Dr. Maryellen Weimer took on the challenge of improving college-level multiple choice tests. While multiple choice tests are a convenience for many professors, for instructors of blended and online courses they can be a necessity. The problem is, of course, that many instructors question what multiple choice tests are really testing -- student learning, or student ability to select an answer from a list of choices.

According to Dr. Weimer, not all multiple choice tests are bad tests. The real problem is crafting the right questions. According to the first post in the series, "A number of years ago, a cross-disciplinary faculty cohort reported that a third of their questions measured complex cognitive skills. An analysis showed that only 8.5% of their questions did, with the remaining testing basic comprehension and recall." Improving the quality of the questions, according to Dr. Weimer, can make multiple choice tests efficient and effective. In the second post, she provides some tips for writing good multiple choice questions, including:

jspohrer's picture

"Exam Wrappers" as a Tool for Helping Students Develop Metacognitive Skills

Our study suggested that blended learning was successful in part because faculty used the online materials to provide students with more opportunities for formative assessment. In the best cases, these included exercises designed to help students develop metacognitive skills, or the skills needed to judge their own learning and the effectiveness of their learning strategies, and identify things they can do to improve. In a recent edition of the faculty development mailing list Tomorrow's Professor, Rick Reis introduces us to Marsha Lovett's concept of "exam wrappers," or short metacognitive exercises for students to complete shortly before and after an exam to get them thinking critically and integratively about their preparation, their performance, and the instructor's feedback. In the article, these are described primarily as in-class and/or on-paper exercises, but they could just as easily be adapted as online exercises for a blended course.

blendedlearning's picture

Interactive Resources in Moodle

If you would like to create your own interactive materials, Moodle offers several advantages. In addition to being relatively easy to use, even without coding ability, Moodle's extensive wiki "MoodleDocs" is full of instructions, explanations, and best practice suggestions.

Related resources:
Creating Quizzes on Moodle
Creating Flashcards on Moodle
Moodle Scheduler

blendedlearning's picture

DIY Math Lessons

Math is a difficult subject to learn without guidance, and those who attempt to learn new mathematical concepts or reinforce what they learned in the classroom are often left to struggle. Complete modules like Washington State University Math Lessons and Calculus on the Web provide tutorials which help teach and practice math tutorials to both new learners and those wishing to refresh their knowledge.

Resources covered:
Washington State University Math Lessons
Calculus on the Web (COW)

Washington State University Math Lessons are a series of applied math tutorials. While the scope of the tutorials is somewhat limited, they address some interesting applied topics such as the math behind voting, fair division of assets, and understanding graphs with regard to supply and demand issues. The site also provides snippets about the history of math and an important female mathematician.

blendedlearning's picture

Tools for Collaboration

One of the advantages of educational technology is that it creates new spaces for interactivity and collaboration. These three resources allow students to think through texts together, share their ideas, and even work through problems in a collective workspace. While all three are different, and target slightly different populations, together these three OERs provide a range of tools for educational collaboration using blended learning technologies.

Resources covered:
Classroom Salon

blendedlearning's picture

Writing Resources for Students

OERs offer student writers an opportunity to learn from each other in ways that a traditional classroom setting doesn’t always allow. These resources include tutorials, interactive exercises, and examples of peer-reviewed work, and digitized reference guides designed to help students become more effective - and more comfortable - as writers.

Resources covered:
A Writer’s Reference
Perdue University’s Online Writing Lab
Writing Spaces
Classroom Salon

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