rampage blog

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Submitted by Fan Zhang

For the technology assignment, I made a rampage blog as the repository for all the online teaching resources I found. The home page of rampage can be easily found using google and keywords VCU rampage. once you find the site, the first you need to do is register for a personal site using your VCU email. The process is very simple, but if you run in to any problem, you can easily find help by using the “trouble?” tag on their home page. I had to research out to them due to forgotten password once, the respond was fairly quick, and the recovery process was very simple.
The first thing you will see when you first log into your won site is the page of dash board. In here, you can make personalized modifications on the overall outlooks of your site. Under the “activation”, you have a number of high quality pre-made themes available. However, if you want make you site more personalized, using the taps under “active theme”, you can make changes to the color, background images, and placement of menus, widget etc.
The next step will be making contents. On the rampage, you can making content through three different ways: 1. Making a post. 2. Make a page. 3. Make a form. The posts are the first thing people will see when they log into you site. You can post all the content through here, however, in my case, since the contents are from to multiple courses, put all that information here might be too messy. So I only made one post as my home page. On this post, links to different course content can be found (as right now, only one link is live)
For the actual course contents, I used the page functions. The links provided on the homepage will lead the reader to the chapter outlines of each course, from there the the readers can make there ways directly to the chapter of interest. For each chapter, a page is created, and inhere I uploaded all the online teaching resources that I found that are related to this chapter. The edition of the page is very intuitive. The only thing I think is worth mention is that when you are trying to upload a online video, it is easier to do it using a coded link though the text edit mode.
The nice thing about the blog format is that you can make any changes at any time, and there is not a limit in the amount of content that you can included in there. And since the coding used here are universal to all WordPress site, when you are no longer associate with VCU, all these work can be easily copy and pasted into another WordPress site.
A link to my sites attached:
For the technology assignment, I made a rampage blog as the repository for all the online teaching resources I found. The home page of rampage can be easily found using google and keywords VCU rampage. Once you find the site, the first you need to do is register for a personal website using your VCU email. The process is straightforward, but if you run into any problem, you can easily find help by using the “trouble?” tag on their home page. I had to research out to them due to the forgotten password once, the response was reasonably quick, and the recovery process was very simple.
The first thing you will see when you first log into your won site is the page of the dashboard. Here, you can make personalized modifications to the overall outlooks of your website. Under the “activation,” you have several high-quality pre-made themes available. However, if you want to make your site more personalized, using the taps under “active theme,” you can make changes to the color, background images, and placement of menus, widget, etc.
The next step will be making content. On the rampage, you can make content in three different ways: 1. Making a post. 2. Make a page. 3. Make a form. The posts are the first thing people will see when they log into your site. You can post all the content through here; however, in my case, since the contents are from multiple courses, put all that information in one place might appear messy. So I only made one post as my home page. On this post, links to different course content can be found (as right now, only one link is live)
For the actual course contents, I used the page functions. The links provided on the homepage will lead the reader to the chapter outlines of each course; from there, the readers can make their ways directly to the chapter of interest. For each chapter, a page was creat, and here, I uploaded all the online teaching resources that I found that are related to this chapter. The edition of the page is very intuitive. The only thing I think is worth mention is that when you are trying to upload an online video, it is easier to do it using a coded link though the text edit mode.
The nice thing about the blog format is that you can make any changes at any time, and there is not a limit in the amount of content that you can include in there. And since the coding used here are universal to all WordPress site, when you are no longer associate with VCU, all these work can be easily copied and pasted into another WordPress site.
A link to my sites attached:
https://rampages.us/zhangf3/

Excel for reducing the pain of grading

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Submitted by Polina Beloborodova

Have you ever had over 500 submissions to grade in one week? If you have, you would understand my desire to optimize the process as much as possible. In this post I will share several MS Excel tools that I’m using for fast grading.

1. Grades calculator for tests

In one of my courses we have periodical tests with a combination of multiple choice and open questions. I do all the grading in Excel and then upload the file with the resulting grades to Bb. The process may look complicated, especially if you don’t work in Excel. But it becomes really easy when you actually do it! Also see attached my file for one of the tests. I removed students’ personal information, but left the grades so that you can see how they are calculated.

Here is the algorithm that I use: shorturl.at/czNX6
And the file: shorturl.at/jwNS0

2. Feedback phrasebook

In another course where I’m TAing, students submit a two or three little assignments each week and two additional big projects. My feedback tends to be repetitive, so I copy it from a separate file. To do it quicker, I organized my “feedback phrasebook” by tone of comment (positive/negative) and topic.

Here is the one I’m using: shorturl.at/IST26

3. TA hours tracker

In order to make sure that my TA hours don’t exceed 20 hours per week, as well as have a more realistic picture of how much I’m working, I made a spreadsheet to track my hours for each course.

I usually put my TA hours in my Google calendar, and then at the end of the week calculate weekly hours for each course where I’m TAing and put the result into my spreadsheet. Excel calculates total weekly hours, average weekly hours for current semester and draws a plot depicting my working hours throughout the semester. This helps me to plan my time and remember that each “hell week” is usually followed by a quiet period.

Here is the template: shorturl.at/afPS7

Evaluating: Assessing and Enhancing Teaching Quality

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Submitted by Fan Zhang

Article Reference

Beran, T. N., & Rokosh, J. L. (2009). The consequential validity of student ratings: What do instructors really think?.Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 55(4).

Felton, J., Koper, P. T., Mitchell, J. and Stinson, M. (2008), “Attractiveness, easiness and other issues: student evaluations of professors on Ratemyprofessors.com”, Assessment&Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 45-61.

Article DOI

Summary of Article

Summary 1
The Consequential Validity of Student Ratings: What do Instructors Really Think?
The purpose of this study was to examine the consequential validity of student ratings, according to instructors at a major Canadian university. Results indicate that most instructors reported concerns about the SRI.
The problems:
Poor design of the instrument (70%)
The survey produced a limited amount of useful information. While there are items in the study that are targeted at specific areas of instruction, yet, these items may not be precise enough for instructors to determine how to improve these areas.
Many instructors indicated that the items were general and not applicable to their style of teaching or course design.
Procedural difficulties (56%)
Many instructors find that the SRI is administered too frequently, and resulting in “student rating fatigue.”
Myth-based issues (31%)
Some instructors consider the USRI to be an unfair measure as it is purely a “popularity contest” or believe that giving out higher grades will result in better SRI scores.
Ratings are biased (29%)
Many instructors believe students’ evaluations to be biased by several factors, including course difficulty, instructor popularity, grading leniency, prior student interest, and class size, although research has consistently shown that most such background characteristics have a negligible effect on student evaluation.
Negative effect on instructors/instruction (11%)
A number of instructors reported feeling that the student rating procedure leads instructors to lower their standard to avoid receiving low ratings.

This study revealed the importance of the consistency between what instructors consider to be quality teaching and the measures used to assess them.

Summary 2
Attractiveness, easiness and other issues: student evaluations of professors on Ratemyprofessors.com

Ratemyprofessors.com is a website with the motto ‘Where the students do the grading.’ It is not affiliated with any institution of higher education or accrediting agency. Since 1999, it has received nearly six million postings rating more than 750,000 instructors at more than 6000 schools.
At the time of this study, students can voluntarily rate their professor at the website based on easiness, helpfulness, clarity, overall quality, and hotness. It is worse noting that today, there are only two categories that are being highlighted on the website, and they are the level of difficulty and overall quality.
This study included data from 6852 professors from 369 institutions in and the United States and Canada. They found that there is a significant positive correlation for Quality and Easiness (0.62), and they found professors with high Easiness scores usually have student comments regrading a light workload and high grades. The authors of this article claim, based on these findings, they think these self- selected evaluations from Ratemyprofessors.com cast considerable doubt on the usefulness of in-class student opinion surveys for purposes of examining quality and effectiveness of teaching.

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you think SRI can be an accurate representation of the quality of a course?
  2. 2. What changes will you make so the SRI can be more helpful to the growth of an educator?
  3. 3. Do you think websites like “rate my professor” influence how professors teaching today?

Voicethread for enhanced student learning

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Submitted by Cathrin Green

For my technology assignment, I decided to look into the potential of using Voicethread as a tool in my classes. Voicethread is a system that allows multisensory collaboration between faculty and students. This tool can promote learning engagement and allows all types of multimedia to be uploaded, including video, pictures, and presentations. Voicethread allows for a range of assignments. Instructors could require students to view content uploaded by the instructor, such as lectures. Instructors could also require students to upload their own content and have other students engage in a dialogue about this content. The neat thing about this tool is that it allows students to comment and respond directly to others’ posts in the form of a video, audio, or text message. In my opinion, this increases the intimacy of class discussion, especially in larger classes, and particularly more than a typical Blackboard discussion board that some instructors use. This is especially beneficial in larger classes where students might not be able to discuss course topics in small groups during class due to space, time, or other limitations. With Voicethread, the instructor is also able to create group assignments and assign students to subgroups without students having to physically be together to complete their work.

Perhaps one of the best parts about this system is that at VCU, instructors can sync this tool with their already existing class Blackboard page. Instructors would just create a Voicethread instance link within Blackboard. Therefore, the class roster will automatically be integrated into Voicethread and students would not have to create a separate account or sign up for a new service. Within this service, instructors are also able to upload grading rubrics and grade assignments. These grades are automatically posted into the instructor’s Blackboard gradebook. In conclusion, Voicethread appears to be an innovative and convenient way for students to be creatively and actively involved in the learning experience.

Caveat: There does seems to be a slight learning curve when using this tool for both instructors and students. If instructors would like to use it, I would suggest taking sometime in class to explain Voicethread to the students and demonstrating how they are to use it to complete assignments. Additionally, VCU has an amazing resource center to help instructors and students create a Voicethread and troubleshoot any problems that might arise.

VCU Blackboard Link: https://ts.vcu.edu/askit/teaching-and-learning/blackboard-elearning/courseorganization-management-/facultyleader/add-courseorganization-content/content-area-buttons/build-content/create/voicethread/

The effectiveness of online and blended learning: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature

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Submitted by Polina Beloborodova

Article Reference

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., & Baki, M. (2013). The effectiveness of online and blended learning: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature. Teachers College Record, 115(3), 1–47.

Article DOI

Summary of Article

Background:
Earlier research on various forms of distance learning concluded that these technologies do not differ significantly from regular classroom instruction in terms of learning outcomes. However, today the increased capabilities of web-based applications and collaboration technologies and the rise of blended learning models combining web-based and face-to-face classroom instruction have raised expectations for the effectiveness of online learning.

Purpose:
This meta-analysis was designed to produce a statistical synthesis of studies contrasting learning outcomes for either fully online or blended learning conditions with those of face-to-face classroom instruction.

Participants:
The types of learners in the meta-analysis studies were about evenly split between students in college or earlier years of education and learners in graduate programs or professional training. The average learner age in a study ranged from 13 to 44.

Conditions:
The meta-analysis was conducted on 50 effects found in 45 studies contrasting a fully or partially online condition with a fully face-to-face instructional condition. Length of instruction varied across studies and exceeded one month in the majority of them.

Research Design:
The meta-analysis corpus consisted of (1) experimental studies using random assignment and (2) quasi-experiments with statistical control for preexisting group differences. An effect size was calculated or estimated for each contrast, and average effect sizes were computed for fully online learning and for blended learning. A coding scheme was applied to classify each study in terms of a set of conditions, practices, and methodological variables.

Results:
The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction. The advantage over face-to-face classes was significant in those studies contrasting blended learning with traditional face-to-face instruction but not in those studies contrasting purely online with face-to-face conditions.

Conclusions & Recommendations:
Studies using blended learning also tended to involve additional learning time, instructional resources, and course elements that encourage interactions among learners. This confounding leaves open the possibility that one or all of these other practice variables contributed to the particularly positive outcomes for blended learning. Further research and development on different blended learning models is warranted. Experimental research testing design principles for blending online and face-to-face instruction for different kinds of learners is needed. The meta-analysis findings do not support simply putting an existing course online, but they do support redesigning instruction to incorporate additional learning opportunities online while retaining elements of face-to-face instruction.

Discussion Questions

  1. In your opinion, how will higher education look like like in 2050? To what degree will it migrate to online? What teaching methods and technologies will we use?
  2. What will be the role of the instructor? What skills should we develop now to fulfil this role in the future?
  3. Coming back to the present, which of VCU technology resources would you like to try in your teaching? How are you going to use it?

Interactive lecturing: review article & pilot study

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Submitted by Polina Beloborodova

Article Reference

Gülpinar, M. A., & Yeğen, B. Ç. (2005). Interactive lecturing for meaningful learning in large groups. Medical Teacher, 27, 590-594.
Snell, Y. S. L. S. (1999). Interactive lecturing: Strategies for increasing participation in large group presentations. Medical Teacher, 21, 37-42.

Article DOI

Summary of Article

(1) Summary of Snell (1999): review of interactive lecturing techniques
Interactive lecturing is a set of techniques aimed at increasing participation of the audience in the lecture:
• Presenter <=> students
• Students <=> material / content
• Students <=> students
New role of teacher: instructor -> facilitator / coach
Why is it good for learning?
• Active involvement
• Increased attention & motivation
• ‘Higher’ level of thinking (analysis, synthesis, application, problem solving, etc.)
• Feedback to teacher & students
• Increased teacher and student satisfaction
Why teachers don’t use it?
• Fear of losing control and covering all material
• Contextual factors (content, physical setting, time constrains, audience)
Techniques:
1. Breaking the class into smaller groups
2. Questioning the audience:
– straightforward questions
– brainstorming
– rhetorical questions
– surveying the class
– quizzes & short answers
3. Using audience responses
4. Using cases & examples
5. Written materials (handouts)
6. Debates, reaction panels, & guests
7. Simulations & role plays
8. Multimedia (video, audio, etc.)
How to get interactive?
• Take risks & overcome fears
• Prepare & practice
• Set clear objectives, cut on material (less is more)
• Prepare students to get involved
• Be flexible, but not too flexible

(2) Summary of Gülpinar and Yeğen (2005): pilot study on interactive lecturing
Aim: to test a ‘structured integrated interactive’ two-hour block lecture
Objectives:
• effects of the prior knowledge on learning & evaluation of the lecture
• effects of well-structured advanced organizer on learning & evaluation
• impact of clinical integration on the comprehension of basic sciences
Lecture outline:
• Using the same template across the lecture: (1) for gradually adding details, (2) for introducing associated pathologies
• Interactive task every 10-15 min
• Using clinical cases with structured evaluations charts
Measures:
1. Pretest: evaluation of prior knowledge (pre-lecture test)
2. Posttest: problem solving skills (performance on cases, evaluated by instructor)
3. Lecture evaluation questionnaire
Sample: 93 students of a large Turkish university
Results:
• Evaluation: 92% successful, mostly positive comments
• Interactivity: 43.9% evaluated as interactive, 35.7% as partially interactive
• Issues: content wasn’t limited, fast pace
• 90% showed acceptable performance on evaluating cases (problem solving)
• Significant correlation (r = .2) of pre-lecture test scores and case scores in one of two topics of the lecture
Conclusions:
• Interactive lecturing facilitates more meaningful in interactive learning in large groups
• Higher order thinking and development of problem solving skills can be achieved to some extent with interactive lecturing
• Prior knowledge is important for learning processes and learning outcomes

Discussion Questions

  1. Which interactive lecturing techniques would work best for the course that you would like to teach in the future? Provide a few examples.

    Summary of discussion:
    – Working in small groups
    – Asking students to repeat what the instructor said a while ago
    – Asking questions
    – Using technology for surveys

  2. Which interactive lecturing techniques would work better for younger audiences? Which ones would be better for older audiences?

    Summary of discussion:
    – It’s not about the choice of techniques, but their adaptation to various audiences (e.g. organizing group work in more structured way for undergraduate students and less structured for graduate students)
    – Other factors to consider: institutional setting (university vs. community college), familiarity with interactive teaching

  3. What are possible negative consequences of interactive lecturing?

    Summary of discussion:
    – Too much interactivity can lead to losses in material covered and can be annoying for the audience
    – Technology has to be checked before the lecture
    – Students may disclose too personal information
    – Lecture may go out of control (e.g. students may start discussing irrelevant topics in groups)
    – Students may give wrong answers and examples

Top Hat for Lectures, Assignments, Tests, Textbooks, AND MORE!

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Submitted by Katrina Markowicz

For my online teaching skill, I decided to create a Top Hat account and learn how to incorporate the teaching tool into future courses that I may teach. I became aware of Top Hat while I was completing a teaching observation. Overall, Top Hat is a really neat tool which essentially would allow a professor to completely place their entire course on the Top Hat site. For example, you can take attendance, upload your lecture slides, choose an associated online textbook, upload and create exams, and create assignments. If a professor only uses Top Hat for free textbooks and course materials (i.e., Top Hat Textbook), as well as the “Top Hat Assignment” feature, students pay nothing. However, there is a fee for students if a professor were to adopt more features. For example, if the professor were to also use Top Hat Classroom, Top Hat Test, and premium textbooks/materials, the fee for students would be no more than $26 for one semester. Professors always sign up for free.

Top Hat Classroom (not free to students): When students interact with Top Hat Classroom, they can use their computers or mobile devices (i.e., mobile app or text) depending on the feature being implemented. For example, one feature that stood out to me was using Top Hat as a lecturing tool. You can easily drag and drop pre-made PowerPoint slides and use the Top Hat website to give the lecture. A benefit to this is that, if you allow it, you can allow students to follow along to the lecture on their computers. You can also annotate slides to circle key words or draw arrows pointing to specific figures. The downside is that when I uploaded some demo slides, my slides came out a little blurry. The classroom feature also allows you to take attendance for your class.

Top Hat Classroom – questions (not free to students): Another feature I enjoyed was being able to create “test-of-knowledge” questions that you can score for participation, correctness, or neither. Examples of question formats include word choice, fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, matching, sorting, and click on the target (i.e., “click which part of the picture defines this word”). These questions can be implemented in the middle of your lecture (i.e., “real-time feedback”) or assigned to the student to complete as homework. When you complete these questions during lecture, it allows you to show the students the correct answer after answering, provide feedback after answering, and set a time limit. One feature I thought was neat was while in presentation mode, is that you can set a count-down for “last minute submissions” to close submission. After students answer the question, you can show the frequency or percent of responses across answers (e.g., for multiple-choice type questions), and then show the correct answer. Some types of questions (i.e., multiple-choice) allows the student to answer on their computer, mobile app, or text, but others require the use of their computer or mobile app. The mobile app should be supported by most phones and across iPhone and Android, but if a student has an older phone, no phone, or a different type of phone, these features could be problematic.

Top Hat Assignment (free to students): You can also assign these questions for homework. Similar to presenting these in lecture, you can set it so they can see the correct answer, provide feedback, and a time limit. As homework, you set a start and due date. These questions can be assigned to the whole class or some of the class. When you assign the question for homework, it send the students a notification to complete it.

Top Hat Textbook (Sometimes free to students): The textbook feature allows professors to choose a text book and other course materials that their students can access. These can be found in the marketplace. There were 12 “premium textbooks” and 12 “free textbooks” under “Psychology,” which is pretty limiting. There are also course notes, slide decks, and question packs available. I could not explore this content further because my account needed to be verified as “professor.”

Top Hat Test (Not free to students): The type of test questions you can implement are similar to the questions you can assign for homework or administer in lecture. A professor types in correct answers to score, and these are scored automatically. There is not a feature to test the student’s knowledge on classroom material through short (1-paragrah) and long essay questions. Though, if a professor is able to change points for specific questions, using the “word answer” question, the student could type in a longer paragraph. That is, the professor could set the correct answer to “SCORE ME” and then change the score based on correctness. Though, as a student, it is possible that they may not be able to see their answer as a whole written out as the words disappear as one types. Overall, I feel like unless this feature allows you to change certain points, it is also difficult to assign partial credit. A benefit of this is that the test feature tracks a student’s use of their computer so if they were to “look up answers” the professor would see that they left the test screen to view online content. Though, the interpretation of what the report presents is limited and could potentially make a professor have to report more students for cheating than during a pen-and-paper test.

For more information, I highly encourage anyone to visit: https://tophat.com. You can also request a demo or create your own account!

Feeding forward from summative assessment: The Essay Feedback Checklist as a learning tool

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Submitted by Samantha Mladen

Article Reference

Wakefield, C., Adie, J., Pitt, E., & Owens, T. (2014). Feeding forward from summative assessment: The Essay Feedback Checklist as a learning tool. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 39(2), 253-262.

Article DOI

Summary of Article

Aim: Investigate the use of the Essay Feedback Checklist (EFC) as a strategy to provide feedback to students that improves future performance on other forms of assessment

Method: 104 second year undergraduate sport studies students were recruited and randomized to a feedback-as-usual condition or an experimental condition with receipt of feedback via the Essay Feedback Checklist on a 2,500 word essay. The EFC requires students to rate their performance prior to submission of their assignment. The same checklist is then used by assessors and any significant discrepancies in scores are explained in additional feedback comments to the student. Students can also request additional feedback on specific domains. Randomization condition was assessed as a predictor of performance on a future assignment in the same subject area, but of a different format (knowledge test). Four students volunteered to take part in a subsequent focus group about the EFC process.

Results:
Repeated measures ANOVA demonstrated a significant group x assessment effect: students who received standard feedback had a decrease in score from 49.29 +/- 12.06 to 44.00 +/- 15.08. Students receiving EFC feedback increased in score from 50.11 +/- 11.51 to 56.85 +/- 17.74 on the subsequent assignment. Qualitative feedback revealed themes of advantages and disadvantages of the EFC, method of self-assessment, and perceived usefulness for future assessments. Students enjoyed the individualized nature of feedback, especially that assessors responded to the types of feedback specifically requested by students. Some students felt that the EFC hurt their morale, especially when they disagreed with scores given by assessors or when they felt that they did not understand the terminology used by assessors or the rubric. A primary benefit was improvement in students’ learning, including taking time to correct their assignment before turning it in and also adjusting for future assessments.

Discussion: The EFC demonstrated success “feeding forward” learning. Students appreciated many aspects of the procedure, but also raised some concerns, including morale and trust between students and assessors. These challenges offer opportunities for future improvements to the EFC.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is your goal in providing feedback to students? How does this influence what form of feedback you offer?
  2. How could the EFC be implemented in courses that don't use essays? How could the principles of the EFC be adapted for other types of assignments?
  3. Focus group participants in this study indicated that the form negatively impacted their morale. How could this be avoided, while still engaging students in the feedback process?

Diigo

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Submitted by Samantha Mladen

I created a Diigo account with a number of useful links, including therapy videos, descriptions of disorders developed by the NIMH, and resources for students interested in a career in psychology. Creating this resource will be helpful for any future classes that I teach, but was also a useful exercise in thinking about the tone that I'd like to set in class. For instance, do I want to show tape of therapy sessions (a more applied approach) or do I want to have a more theoretical approach? Future students may also benefit from considering how the resources that they choose to prepare for lecture will set the tone for their course.

Youtube

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Submitted by Mattie Hedgebeth

In undergrad, I found YouTube to be a very useful tool in studying and learning class material. For my technology assignment, I compiled useful videos from the YouTube channel "CrashCourse" which give a short and fun explanation of educational subjects, in this case, subjects pertaining to social psychology. I have also added a few videos that are in a similar format and would be useful to students that may just need something explained in a different way or just want to quickly review material for a test or quiz. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCLUk397vKEZflM11NApNrA?view_as=subscriber