Rubrics as Teaching Tools

We are all familiar with rubrics as an evaluation tool, used for summative assessment and to give a grade, but rubrics can also be a teaching tool for feedback and peer learning.
In a recent Faculty Focus article “Rubrics: An Undervalued Teaching Tool Stephanie Almagno outlined five ways rubrics can be used as teaching tools.

1. A Rubric for Thinking (Invention Activity)
When an assignment is given, students use the rubric to stimulate initial ideas and to brain-storm way to approach the assignment

2. A Rubric for Peer Feedback (Drafting Activity)
For first drafts, have students give peer feedback on the each others work, using the rubric to keep them focused.

3. A Rubric for Teacher Feedback (Revision Activity)
For longer more complex assignments, use rubrics to give feedback on work in progress. Scores don’t need to be given. use stars, or emoticons (happy, meh, frowny faces) to indicate “this is good, this need work”

4. A Rubric for Mini-Lessons (Data Indicate a Teachable Moment)
Use the rubric to give feedback to the class as a whole. After marking, scan the rubrics for those criteria done badly or particularly well, and prepare a “mini -lesson” to review the weakest areas.

5. A Rubric for Making Grades Visible (Student Investment in Grading)
When submitting assignments, have students submit a self-assessed rubric for their project. This encourages them to think like how it will be marked and combats the idea that grades are arbitrary. It allows them to reflect on their own strengths and weaknesses, and how they can improve.

These ideas all, of course, make two basic assumptions about using rubrics. That rubrics are provided to the students at the same time as the project is assigned; and that rubrics are applied consistently throughout the assessment.

1 comment April 29th, 2016

How to Read Student Feedback on Teaching.

It’s that time of the semester again when the results of Student Feedback on Teaching Surveys are coming out. Most faculty, no matter how long they have been teaching or how confident they are of their abilities dread them; few, if any, look forward to them with enthusiasm. So how can you read them and use them constructively?

Read Them
Seems fairly obvious, but what teacher has not been tempted to not read student feedback sometime? We don’t want to read negative things about ourselves; who does? But you have to start by reading them, and not just a casual glance through them.
They will provide useful information to improve your teaching practice. Keep that in mind and start positive.

Put Them Aside
Negative comments sting, exuberant praise makes us elated (and those who leave comments are most likely to be those who hate you or love you as a teacher). You need, in the words of Kipling to “…meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.” The best way to do that is to give yourself some distance; go for a walk, a coffee or an ice cream and come back to them later. If you can leave them for a day or two or a week, so much the better, and you can then come back to them in a more objective frame of mind.

Look for Trends and Outliers
What are the general trends in the feedback? Identify categories that they fall into; they might be related to the course structure, assessment strategies or with the teaching style. What are the positives? What are things that work well that can be used to strengthen the areas that are weaker?
Look at the outliers. It’s tempting when overall data and comments are positive to ignore the outliers, but they do provide useful information. Perhaps your teaching style is not meeting the needs of all students’ learning styles, perhaps you need to be clearer in managing student expectations. Do you have underlying assumptions about your students that are no longer true about all of them?

Think Ahead
Use the questions in the Student Feedback survey to plan changes to your course. Not to ‘teach to the test’ or skew the course top get better ratings, but use them as a checklist for course design and teaching. For example: could you make it more explicit how the course connects to job requirements? Can you build in more opportunities for active participation?

Close the Loop
Record what you plan to do; not just to respond to specific issues that have been raised; but to improve your course and your teaching, because we can all always improve.

Links for further ideas on Interpreting student evaluations

Add comment April 22nd, 2016

CTL Workshops Feb 22 to Feb 26 - Register now!

Looking for help in designing authentic assignments, developing new courses or a new approach to creative thinking?
We’re here to help. Check out up-coming workshops from CTL and register now at the CTL Calendar

Tuesday Feb 23rd Room A227 – 10m – 12pm
Design Thinking REGISTER

Not everyone can make decisions for the system they exist within”, however, Design Thinking can engage more people, more often, more efficiently. This human-centred, creative process is based on iterative sequences of prototyping, testing and refinement. Participants will experience the DT method through interactive exercises.

Wednesday Feb 24th Room A227 – 2pm – 4pm
Course design – From Finish to Start REGISTER

How do you create a course with learning outcomes, learning activities and assessments that align? Using the principles of backwards design and constructive alignment this workshop will explore the stages course development.

Thursday Feb 25th Room A227 – 10am – 12pm
Authentic Assessment REGISTER

Assessing your assessments. Do your assessments reflect what will be expected of students in the workplace? Do they reliably measure what students can do? This workshop will explore evaluation strategies that support meaningful learning and reliable assessment of students’ abilities

Add comment February 18th, 2016

CEDP Reads Start Here - Bad Apple

Building our college community through engagement with the
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

Join your colleagues from across Mohawk to engage in reflection and discussion of five teaching and learning research articles. The entire Mohawk community is invited to participate in this new initiative to promote discussion and foster membership within the broader teaching community. We have designed CEDP Reads to be scalable to accommodate your busy schedule and areas of interest. You may choose to read and discuss just one article, or all five articles from the available reading options. You may choose to attend a face to face discussion group or participate in an online discussion by posting a thoughtful contribution to the larger teaching community of practice on eLearn.

The First Article can also be accessed on this page at the link below.
Bad Apple: The Social Production and Subsequent Reeducation of a Bad Teacher by Mark Cohan

“I have a confession to make. I was a bad teacher. I was not mean or abusive to students, and I didn’t make capricious demands, ignore my syllabus, grade while under the influence, or test students on material I had not taught. Students learned some sociology in my classes, and some even enjoyed the experience. But two things in particular convinced me that I was a bad teacher.”

Through examination of his own teaching philosophy, discussions with trusted colleagues, and interactions with his students, Mark undergoes a transformation.

What are your thoughts and reactions to this article?
Join in the discussion either here in the comments or through the “CEDP Reads” eLearn course.

Cohan, Mark. (2009). Bad Apple: The Social Production and Subsequent Reeducation of a Bad Teacher.Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning. 41(6), 32-36.

Add comment February 10th, 2016

CEDP Reads - Come and Join Us

CEDP Reads 2016
Building our college community through engagement with the
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Join your colleagues from across Mohawk to engage in reflection and discussion of five teaching and learning research articles. The entire Mohawk community is invited to participate in this new initiative to promote discussion and foster membership within the broader teaching community. We have designed CEDP Reads to be scalable to accommodate your busy schedule and areas of interest. You may choose to read and discuss just one article, or all five articles from the available reading options. You may choose to attend a face to face discussion group or participate in an online discussion by posting a thoughtful contribution to the larger teaching community of practice on eLearn.
The First Article can also be accessed on the CTL Blog.

Face-to-face discussion group. If talking in person is more your style, grab a coffee and come and join us for a discussion of reactions and thoughts in the staff lounge in the Fennell cafeteria.

1 RE-EDUCATION OF A BAD APPLE
Discussion Group: Friday, Feb 19th 10.am – 11am Staff Lounge - Fennell Cafeteria

Join us on the CTL Blog to participate in our online discussion regarding “Mark” a self-described bad teacher. Mark begins by saying “I have a confession to make. I was a bad teacher. I was not mean or abusive to students, and I didn’t make capricious demands, ignore my syllabus, grade while under the influence, or test students on material I had not taught. Students learned some sociology in my classes, and some even enjoyed the experience. But two things in particular convinced me that I was a bad teacher.” Through examination of his own teaching philosophy, discussions with trusted colleagues, and interactions with his students, Mark undergoes a transformation. Join our online discussion to explore the role of teaching philosophy in education.
Cohan, Mark. (2009). Bad Apple: The Social Production and Subsequent Reeducation of a Bad Teacher. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning. 41(6), 32-36.

2 BORING BUT IMPORTANT
Discussion Group: Tuesday, Feb 23rd 11am – 12pm, Staff Lounge - Fennell Cafeteria

Motivating our students to engage with learning opportunities is an ongoing challenge for faculty members. Many important learning tasks feel uninteresting and tedious to learners. This research proposed that promoting a prosocial, self-transcendent purpose could improve academic self-regulation on such tasks. This proposal was supported in 4 studies with over 2,000 adolescents and young adults. Join us to discuss new ideas and best practices for motivating your students.
Yeager, D. S., Henderson, M., D’Mello, S., Paunesku, D. Walton, G. M., Spitzer, B. J., & Duckworth, A. L. (2014). Boring but important: A self-transcendent purpose for learning fosters academic self-regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107, 559-580.

3 DOES ACTIVE LEARNING WORK?
Discussion Group: Tuesday, 1st March 11am – 12pm Staff Lounge - Fennell Cafeteria

Active learning has received considerable attention over the past several years. Often presented or perceived as a radical change from traditional instruction, the topic frequently polarizes faculty. Active learning has attracted strong advocates among faculty looking for alternatives to traditional teaching methods, while skeptical faculty regard active learning as another in a long line of educational fads. This study examines the evidence for the effectiveness of active learning. It defines the common forms of active learning and critically examines the core element of each method. It is found that there is broad but uneven support for the core elements of active, collaborative, cooperative and problem-based learning. Join us to share new ideas, best practices and your experiences with active learning.
Prince, Michael. (2013). Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research. Journal of Engineering Education. 93(3), 223-231.

4 LEARNING STYLES: A MAJOR MYTH IN EDUCATION
Discussion Group: Thursday March 10th 3pm to 4pm Staff Lounge - Fennell Cafeteria

The authors’ idea for this paper stems from John Stossell’s (2006) book, Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. Stossell was a consumer advocate and 20/20 anchor who spent his career challenging consumer myths. Although the use of learning styles has been challenged for years (see Curry, 1990; Doyle & Rutherford, 1984; Gutierrez & Rogoff, 2003; Kampwirth & Bates, 1980; Snider, 1990; Stahl, 1999), it seems as though the issues raised by these papers have had little impact on the continuing use of learning style instruction in education. The goal in this paper is to initiate a dialogue among educators who continue to make assertions about the usefulness of identifying students’ learning styles with little or no research support. Join us to discuss the status of learning style instruction and the unsubstantiated claims made by authors of learning style instruments and by instructors.
Dembo, M. H., Howard, K. (2007). Advice about the use of Learning Styles: a Major Myth in Education. Journal of College Reading and Learning, Spr 2007, 37(2), 101-109.

5 TECHNOLOGY-ENHANCED INSTRUCTION: PITFALLS AND POTENTIAL
Discussion Group: Monday March 10th 2pm to 3pm Staff Lounge - Fennell Cafeteria

In 2011, HEQCO issued a call for research projects related to technology-enhanced instruction. Part of a broader effort to identify and evaluate innovative practices in teaching and learning, HEQCO’s purpose in commissioning these projects was both to inform best practices at the classroom, institution and policy levels, as well as to encourage institutions and faculty members to assess the effectiveness of what they were doing in the classroom. Now that the technology studies have concluded and that most have been published, this report draws some broader conclusions from their methods and findings.
Lopes, V., & Dion, N. (2015). Pitfalls and Potential: Lessons from HEQCO-Funded Research on Technology-Enhanced Instruction. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

How to Register Online:

  1. Log into Elearn
  2. Select the “Open Offerings” Tab
  3. Scroll down to “CEDP Reads”
  4. Click on the course name
  5. Click on the “Register” button to confirm
  6. The “CEDP Reads Course will be found under the “Employee” Tab

For more information, please contract Leslie Marshall at leslie.marshall@mohawkcollege.ca

Add comment February 10th, 2016

CTL Workshops Feb 8th to Feb 12th - Register now!

Looking for help designing assignments, developing new courses or group learning activities?
We’re here to help. Check out up-coming workshops from CTL and register now at the CTL Calendar

Tuesday Feb 9th Room A227 – 10am – 12pm
Authentic Assessment REGISTER
Assessing your assessments. Do your assessments reflect what will be expected of students in the workplace? Do they reliably measure what students can do? This workshop will explore evaluation strategies that support meaningful learning and reliable assessment of students’ abilities .

Wednesday Feb 10th Room A227 – 2pm – 3pm
Group Assessment REGISTER
Collaboration and communication are essential skills for graduates. This workshop will explore how can you create and assess group assignments that encourage and measure group-working skills.

Thursday Feb 11th Room A227 – 10pm – 11pm
Online Course Design / Blended Learning REGISTER
Blended delivery not only requires re-tooling content and learning activities for the on-line environment, but also re-thinking what happens face-2-face. This workshop will explore active learning strategies to optimize learning in all environments

Add comment February 4th, 2016

CTL Workshops Feb 2nd to Feb 4th - Register now!

Looking for help designing digital assignments, developing new courses or increasing student engagement in class?
We’re here to help. Check out up-coming workshops from CTL and register now at the CTL Calendar

Tuesday Feb 2 Room A227 – 2pm – 2.45pm
10 Steps for Digital Assignment Success REGISTER

Go green while increasing student flexibility and autonomy. Participants in this workshop will learn how to set-up Dropbox folders in eLearn@Mohawk and discuss different use-cases and best practices of taking assignments online.

Wednesday Feb 3 Room A227 – 10am – 10.45am
Cool Tools to Boost Engagement REGISTER

Your CTL is committed to hunting high and low for the most impactful tools to add to your arsenal. Come explore our latest discoveries to boost students’ interest in content and engagement in class.

Thursday Feb 4 Room A227 – 2pm – 4pm
Course design – From Finish to Start REGISTER

How do you create a course with learning outcomes, learning activities and assessments that align? Using the principles of backwards design and constructive alignment this workshop will explore the stages course development.

Add comment January 28th, 2016

Group Assessment Workshop

CTL presents workshops on Group Assessment

Thursday January 21st 2pm;
Wednesday February 10th 10am.

Collaboration and communication are essential skills for graduates. This workshop will explore how can you create and assess group assignments that encourage and measure group-working skills.

Register now at the CTL Calendar

Add comment January 19th, 2016

UPDATE CTL Speaker Series: Creative Thinking and Problem Solving: 21st Century Skills

The Workshop is now full.
There are some seats still available for the Keynote.
Register Today!

Add comment January 15th, 2016

CTL Speaker Series: Creative Thinking and Problem Solving: 21st Century Skills

Gerard Puccio: Creative Thinking and Problem Solving: 21st Century Skills

On January 25th Gerard Puccio,Department Chair and Professor at the International Center for Studies in Creativity, SUNY - Buffalo State will be opening the Mohawk CTL Speaker Series, in the Mohawk College Collaboratory.

He will discuss what creativity is, the related trends in education and around the world, why it is important as a fundamental 21st-century skill, and how we can
use creative thinking to solve problems.

Below is an excerpt from his TedTalk on “Creativity as a Life Skill”

You can register now for the keynote Presentation at 4pm and the supporting workshop at 6pm at the registration website

*Spaces for the workshop are limited - register now*

Add comment January 14th, 2016

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