Change One Thing Challenge

2016 Recipients

Dennis Tokaryk, Faculty of Science, PhysicsDennis Tokaryk - Physics (UNBF)

My Experience with Perusall: Web-based Management System for Course Readings

Dr.  Eric Mazur (Harvard) has a long-standing reputation as an innovator in Science education.  He has spearheaded Perusall - a system for a professor to distribute textbooks, notes, articles, etc. in an electronic format.  Students are assigned the readings for specific days.  So far, not a very different system from D2L.  The novel component here is the ability (and requirement) for students to highlight parts of the text, and to make comments as they read, to ask questions when they don't understand some of the text, and to respond to comments or answer questions posted by other students.  The comments are tagged to specific sections of the text so the reader has an immediacy that is lost on a conventional discussion board forum.  And I can monitor whether students have done the readings based on their comments - and give my own!

Jason Bell, PhilosophyJason Bell - Arts (UNBF)

Interviews, Ethics & Discourse

The one thing that I changed was to ask each of my ethics students to come to my office in the first two weeks of class for a brief "interview" of about 15 - 20 minutes.  This was ungraded, but nearly all students did come by.  I asked questions about where students were from, what their high school experience was like (of freshmen), what their professional experiences had been like (particularly for non-traditional students, and for those working their way through college) why they chose UNB, why they chose their majors (or what they are thinking about studying if undecided), what classes they have enjoyed, and future plans after college.  I took some brief notes to help me connect names, face, and purposes in study so that I could build upon these in the semester's teaching.  At the end of our conversation, I told students "Now you know where my office is, and you are welcome to come by and see me anytime!"

Sandra Bell, Faculty of Arts - UNBSJSandra Bell - Arts (UNBSJ)

Community Connections: Class without Walls 

This course focuses on two Shakespearean plays, and possible ways of teaching elements of those plays to high school level students.  Previously, assessment was based on in-class simulated teaching situations, where students taught their peers.  In Winter 2016, I decided that for the final project, students would teach one class in a high school setting.  They could teach 25 minutes by themselves (2 students would fill the hour, one after the other), or 50 minutes in a team of two.  I arranged several visits to a number of different local highschools, and all students in my class actually taugh high school students an element about a specific play the class was reading.  I observed and assessed all of their teaching.

2015 Recipients

Nathan Thompson - RCNathan Thompson, Renaissance College

Another Kind of Flip: Using a Thematic Approach to Engage Students

I teach a 2nd year course at Renaissance College called Natural Science, Technology, and Society. This year, I decided to apply a thematic learning approach, which is where you use one theme or focus to structure the course without modifying the core curriculum. I decided on the theme of climate change and each lesson and assignment relates back to this topic. Switching to a thematic approach has provided a more focused course that deepens the students’ understanding of the core curriculum.

Cheyenne Mary, Faculty of Nursing (Moncton Campus)Cheyenne Mary - Nursing (Moncton)

Cards of Caring: Relating to Others in the Classroom

I used interactive exercises to solidify key concepts related to client's lived experience with chronic illness. I gave each student 3 blank cards. They were to list an aspiration, a personal talent and an important person. I randomly removed one card from each student. I stated: "You now have an illness that impacts your life such that your aspiration, or talent or important person no longer exists or can be achieved. How do you feel?" The emotions are real and the despair is palpable. All of a sudden they were walking, for a moment, in a client's shoes.

Paul Cook - CS (UNBF)

Programming Takes Practice: Structuring CS Labs to Ensure that Practice Happens

Paul Cook, Computer ScienceIn fall 2014 CS1003 labs were an opportunity for students to work on programming assignments with TA support. Attendance was low. Many students believed they could do the programming assignments on their own time without TA support, and as a result did rather poorly on them. In fall 2015 this was changed. Students must complete a pre-lab activity and bring it to their lab. They are then required to complete an in-lab programming assignment by the end of the lab. These are graded in-lab, and count directly towards a student's overall grade. Attendance is now close to 100%. Informal feedback from students indicates that they like the labs, and find them helpful in learning programming. TAs who have worked in both years believe that students have stronger programming skills this year.

2014 Recipients

Bryan Crawford, Biology

Screencasting My Classes Using Doceri

Bryan Crawford, BiologyI have begun using Doceri to ScreenCast my lectures in Cell Biology.  This allows me to use my iPad to wirelessly run a Keynote presentation from my laptop and move freely around the room, while the audio and projected image data is recorded.  Furthermore, this allows me to write/draw on top of whatever is being projected on the screen, or drop down a whiteboard for "chalktalk' style elaborations on specific topics.  Finally, I can pass the iPad to students and ask them to draw/graph/illustrate some specific idea, allowing me a new form of student interaction.

Fam Loutfi, French

Using Exam Wrappers in Introductory French

Fatima Loutfi, Humanities & Languagues, UNBSJI introduced the exam wrapper in my French Introductory courses this term.  This was one of my approaches to make students think not just about their grades, but to also monitor and self-assess their own learning processes.  As an educator, I help students improve their learning strategies, by directly recommending and describing certain approaches, and explain why they work so well.  I also let them, indirectly, discover their personal learning strategies, by producing their own evaluative feeback.  The exam wrapper provides an opportunity for me to listen to students concerns and to refocus if necessary.

Jamie Miles, Chemical Engineering

Cooking Spaghetti, A Just-in-Time Approach for Teaching Heat Transfer

Jamie Miles, Chemical EngineeringThis semester, I am teaching a third year Chemical Engineering core course in Heat Transfer.  When I was developing the course, I decided to implement a "just-in-time teaching" approach, which I was introduced to at a conference last spring.  At the start of each class, I presented a practical problem that the students didn't know how to solve.  Implementing this change allowed me to connect course content with real-world problem solving in a more direct way.  The students I have spoken to are pleased with this approach.  They find it intriguing that at the beginning of each lecture, they don't know how to solve the given problem, but by lecture's end, they have the tools and theory required.

Li-Hong Xu, Physics

Party Physics

Li-Hong Xu, Physics UNBSJThe majority of the students in introductory physics are in the course because of their program requirements, and this is likely to be their only time taking physics at university.  How do we ensure that they learn the required material for their future professional programs even though their interest in Physics may be minimal and how do we maximize their physics time to make a lifelong learning impression about physics?  One change I have made this year is to inrtoduce "Party Physics": at the start of every lecture, we spend 5 minutes demonstrating or showing a game, a magic trick, a song, a reading, a YouTube clip, anything physics-related that students can use to entertain their friends at a party but also explain to their friends the physics behind it.