Full Agenda 2017

Symposium logo - intersections: where instructional design meets learning science

Co-hosted by the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation and the Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking

May 1, 2017

Location: Desautels Hall, Rotman School of Management

8am – 2pm

President Meric Gertler
9am – 9:15am

9:15am – 10am

Translating Learning Science into Teaching Practice
Sanjay Sarma, Vice-President for Open Learning, Office of Digital Learning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

The way we teach – and the ways in which our students learn – have remained unchanged for almost 50 years, in spite of staggering and highly meaningful advances in the science of learning and the technological prowess that we can marshal to making learning more effective, efficient, stimulating and transformative of the learner.  Learning and teaching practice stand to benefit enormously from incorporating insights, models and findings from cognitive science, the social and the psychology of learning – alongside machine learning and deep learning. This talk will survey some insights from learning science and their applications to pedagogical practice in higher education. It will also highlight examples from the experience that MIT has had in re-designing learning platforms and experiences  – going back to its seminal introduction of OpenCourseWare in the 1990’s and its seeding of the EDX platform, and extending to its current efforts to re-shape the learning experience of its students.

10:00am – 10:45am



Feedback: The Biggest Broken Loop in Higher Education – and How to Fix It
Facilitator: Mihnea Moldoveanu,  Vice Dean of Learning and Innovation, Director of Desaultels Centre for Integrative Thinking and Marcel Desautels Professor of Integrative Thinking

Learning science and teaching practice agree on the power of feedback to enable and enhance learning. So why is feedback spotty, ill-timed or utterly missing in higher education?

12pm – 1pm

1pm – 2pm

1.1 Research on Teaching & Learning: Writing, Language and Community

i. Empowering students to accelerate their vocabulary expansion in order to engage effectively with their courses

Elaine Khoo, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Centre for Teaching and Learning, UTSC

Given the myriad Academic English challenges many multilingual students from various previous educational backgrounds encounter, conventional methods of supporting these students need to be augmented in ways that empower these students to customize support according to their respective needs. An overlooked area of need is accelerated vocabulary expansion, which would enable these students to be able to cope with effective learning in courses, work on their projects and writing assignments as well as to be able to engage as an active member of the learning community. The Vocabulary Expansion Accelerator (VEA) designed to operate at the intersection of learning science (e.g. (Tokuhama-Espinosa, 2010) and learner-centred pedagogy (Zimmerman, 2002) to enhance the acceleration of academic vocabulary acquisition (Gardner, 2013) has been used at UTSC to support students across different disciplines. This online tool helps students to expand their vocabulary through facilitating their reading of course materials. This session presents findings from an exploratory SoTL investigation where readings of three courses from different disciplines were analyzed for vocabulary expansion potential if students used VEA. In a fourth course where VEA was used extensively, students’ journals and final assignment were analyzed to identify themes in their perceptions as well to study the engagement impact of their vocabulary expansion. Insights gained from the investigation will be translated into recommendations for best practices that can be adopted by instructors so that their students are facilitated in expanding their vocabulary using the VEA tool that is available across all three campuses.

Gardner, D. (2013). Exploring vocabulary: language in action. London: Routledge.
Tokuhama-Espinosa, T. (2010). The new science of teaching and learning: using the best of mind, brain, and education science in the classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.
Zimmerman, B. (2002). Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview. Theory into Practice, 41(2), 64–70.

ii. Dissertation boot camps: Developing self-efficacy and building community

Rachael Cayley, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, School of Graduate Studies

While there is a great deal of anecdotal enthusiasm for writing boot camps, we are still in the early stages of understanding their value for graduate writers. Given the inherent challenges in determining whether writing boot camps have a measurable impact, it is important to listen to what doctoral writers themselves observe about their experiences as boot camp participants. In this presentation, I will focus on the reflections offered by doctoral writers in questionnaires completed after participating in dissertation boot camps at the University of Toronto. I will present the themes that emerged from my analysis of these questionnaire responses: the value of protected writing time, group discussions, and writing instruction. Taken together, their responses indicate the importance of having dedicated time to write with others in an atmosphere of growth. My analysis suggests that the boot camp experience helps doctoral writers to develop self-efficacy as writers and to embrace the notion of building a writing community. Understanding the enthusiasm of boot camp participants may be helpful to those designing initiatives to support graduate writers. By listening to the reflections of graduate writers, we can discover how they can benefit from a structured environment in which to learn about themselves as writers, to interact with a community of supportive peers, and to receive formal instruction about the academic writing process.

Busl, Gretchen, Kara Lee Donnelly, and Matthew Capdevielle. 2015. “Camping in the Disciplines: Assessing the Effect of Writing Camps on Graduate Student Writers.” Across the Disciplines 12(3).

Lee, Sohui, and Chris Golde. 2013. “Completing the Dissertation and beyond: Writing Centers and Dissertation Boot Camps.” Writing Lab Newsletter. Academic OneFile.

Mastroieni, Anita, and DeAnna Cheung. 2011. “The Few, the Proud, the Finished: Dissertation Boot Camp as a Model for Doctoral Student Support.” NASPA Knowledge Communities: Excellence in Practice, November, 4–6.

Simpson, Steve. 2015. “Building for Sustainability.” Praxis: A Writing Center Journal. Accessed January 29.

iii. Making writing social: Building community and audience through a writing retreat

Sheila Stewart, Acting Coordinator, Community Engaged Learning, New College
Liz Newbery, Associate Director, New College Writing Centre

Our in-progress research focuses on undergraduate students learning about their writing by participating in day-long writing retreats. In March 2016 we piloted a writing retreat and have done two subsequent retreats. Our preliminary research questions were the following: How can a retreat help students work with isolation and fear? How does engagement with others help students develop a sense of authority in their work? Does active attention to the body-mind connection help writers think and create? How does expanding the conversations about and audience for writing help students move beyond “playing school”?

Our research has involved working with student comments about their learning and using the theory of Donald Winnicott to examine what occurred both for students and writing instructors. Undergraduate writing tends to be produced in isolation and rarely reaches an audience beyond the professor; this dynamic often leaves students feeling disengaged from their work and the research process itself. The writing retreat was designed to build conversations between students, model effective writing processes, and develop a supportive writing community. Because of our belief that writing is both social and embodied, we incorporated mini-workshops, peer feedback, walk and talks, yoga, and a coffee lounge into the day.

– to understand the challenges and possibilities of an undergraduate writing retreat
– to think about how a writing retreat can create conditions for students to learn about what supports and what hinders their writing
– to engage with writing centre research about student writing

1.2 Lightning Talks: Powerful Assignments – Ethics and Reflection

i. Genome Sequencing and Designer Babies: Using a Debate Assignment to Foster Team-Based Learning in a Senior-Level Genetics Course

Maria Papaconstantinou, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Human Biology Program

Although DNA technology has the potential to enhance our quality of life, it also raises a large number of ethical, social, and political questions that we must be aware of in order to make informed decisions about the applications of and participation in genetics- and genomics-related research and health care.  In order to create an environment in which students engage with complex, relevant, real-world problems and address head-on the contemporary challenges and controversies in genomic medicine and research, a student-centred team-based learning approach was used in which groups of students examined and debated two important statements related to the benefits and costs of particular DNA technologies: “Everyone’s DNA should be sequenced at birth and stored in a database” and “Human germline genetic modification should be permitted.”  Teams were randomly assigned a statement and position and students on each team were tasked to research their position both individually and collectively, and to present their arguments, providing evidentiary support.  Teams were allowed a rebuttal, supporting their statements with specific sources if challenged.  At the conclusion of the debate, the audience voted based on the arguments presented, and each student summarized their arguments in an individual essay.  This “nifty assignment”, which examines science and its interaction with society, promotes active learning and the development of critical thinking, collaborative team-building, and communication (both oral and written) skills while constructing substantive knowledge and facilitating peer teaching.  Furthermore, this intellectual exploration allows students to better understand course concepts and integrate their learning with the goals of the course related to the investigation of important questions or issues in genetics and the interpretation of both scientific and non-scientific data.  Student evaluations indicate a high level of engagement and an effective method for making connections between course concepts and outside readings used to explore the problem and to strengthen points.  In this session, the creation and administration of the assignment, the learning outcomes, and the assignment strengths and challenges will be discussed.  Session participants will gain knowledge of how this assignment can be used as a learning tool in any discipline and across a wide range of teaching contexts with minor modifications related to course material since it encourages students to examine the applications of lecture content while sharing that knowledge with their peers.

ii. Ethics for Future Financial Professionals – strategies to incorporate ethics education into a technical curriculum

Vicki Zhang, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Statistical Sciences

Ethics has long been recognized as an important component in financial education. However, much of the ethics concern in modern finance increasingly dwell in “grey areas”, beyond the traditional boundaries of legality and professional standards, which have been the focus of traditional financial ethics education. Moral hazard created by complex products, “creative” risk transfer schemes that are legal but morally dubious, morality underlying common risk selection criteria, are just a few of such examples. I argue that it is high time we broadened the scope of financial ethics education to include those controversial topics, as they reflect the real-life issues our students will face in their future professional lives.

A key challenge is how to confront students’ indifference to financial ethics education, as they tend to be driven by external motivations when entering finance-related majors. Over the past three years, I developed a series of pedagogical strategies to incorporate ethics into technical courses. Examples include team-based research projects that utilize finance to address “externalities” such as environmental issues; “investigative” projects where students act as consumers in a real marketplace to understand the public’s challenges in the face of financial industry’s lack of transparency. A narrative-based approach is used in a second-year introductory course to implicitly convey the moral background of technical content. Students in my upper-year courses are required to read deeply on ethics issues and debate on controversial topics. I will present findings from exit reviews and lessons learned on how to integrate ethics as a key component into technical courses.

Boatright, J.R. (2013). Ethics in finance. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.
Ethical Issues in Financial Services. (n.d.). Issues in Business Ethics Contemporary Reflections on Business Ethics, 187-205. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-4984-2_11
Zhang, V. & Ewener, J. (2014). Uncalculated Risks: The transformation of insurance, the erosion of regulation, and the economic and social consequences. Toronto: Canadian Scholar Press

iii. Reflection assignments in humanities community-engaged learning courses

Jenna Brooke, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, University of St. Michael’s College
Jennifer Esmail, Coordinator of Academic Initiatives, Centre for Community Partnerships
Reid Locklin, Associate Professor of Christianity and the Intellectual Tradition, St Michael’s College and the Department for the Study of Religion

Research in the field of community-engaged learning has emphasized the importance of reflection exercises and assignments for student learning. Learning does not happen simply through undergoing an experience, Dewey, Kolb and Bringle and Hatcher tell us, but partly through a student’s reflection on that experience, which allows for its integration with a student’s existing knowledge, experience and ideas. In this session, three instructors of community-engaged learning courses in the Humanities will share their innovative approaches to reflection activities and assignments including a creative amalgamation of student writing with existing course texts, a reflection partner mentoring model, and art-based reflections that allow students to process their experiences creatively. These three approaches share a commitment to retaining what is most valuable in traditional models of reflection at the thematic level – such as integrating the theoretical and the experiential – while using formal innovations to interrogate ideas of audience, authority or assessment.

Bringle, R., & Hatcher, J. (1999). Reflection in Service Learning: Making Meaning of Experience. Educational Horizons, 77(4), 179-185.
Dewey, J. (1933). How We Think. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus.
Kolb, David A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

1.3 Lightning Talks: Building Connections, Deepening Learning

i. Helping Students Become ‘Expert’ Learners by Actively Building Connections Between Course Concepts

Kripa Freitas, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Economics

Students often struggle to organize new material. They tend to link concepts according to superficial characteristics and miss interconnections and deeper structural patterns. This session will describe a teaching strategy to address this. It consists of (1) a short writing prompt at the start of class and (2) immediate group feedback.

The writing prompt is chosen to highlight a particular aspect of material previously covered. Students complete it and their (privacy protected) answers are projected. The instructor picks a few answers to give quick feedback on. During this discussion, we highlight how this aspect will link into the new material. This puts the emphasis on interconnections and deeper disciplinary knowledge – this is how an economist thinks vs. this is a topic in economics. Bringing prior knowledge to the forefront makes it easier for students to ‘hook’ the new material on. It models for the ‘novice’ learner how an ‘expert’ learner organizes new knowledge. Writing helps students clarify their reasoning and builds critical thinking skills.

This strategy is best suited for large (100+) classes. Group-feedback is a low-cost way for an instructor to help students identify areas of conceptual weakness, get practice writing and organizing knowledge, and get formative feedback. It is an easy to adapt strategy that builds focused active learning into a course in a way that does not require a major reorganization. It offers a window into student learning that can inform a course or curriculum renewal.

The talk will describe the thought process behind this strategy and provide examples based on an implementation in a second-year economics course. We will compare and contrast it to similar strategies like Just-in-time teaching and one-minute papers. The session will end with a discussion on how to tailor the strategy to different teaching contexts.

ii. Scientific writing across the core Biology curriculum

Christoph Richter, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Biology, UTM
Sanja Hinic-Frlog, , Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Biology, UTM
Steven Chatfield, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Biology, UTM
Fiona Rawle, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Biology, UTM

Over the past years, we identified a number of problems Biology students have with scientific writing such as constructing arguments, structuring paragraphs, and paraphrasing scientific sources. Recognizing that our students do not have opportunities to hone their writing in large classes, and that these issues could not be dealt with in one course, we designed a writing initiative across four core courses of the undergraduate Biology programs at UTM. The goals of our initiative were to:

  1. Align science writing instruction and assessment interventions across courses to allow students to strategically progress throughout our curriculum.
  2. Track the development of transferable skills dealing with scientific literacy and science writing competencies.
  3. Train a dedicated team of scientific literacy TAs.

For instance, one learning outcome of the initiative is to assess, select, critically read, interpret and evaluate scientific literature. In first year courses, we place emphasis on interpretation and critical evaluation of scientific literature. Building on these skills, students in second year courses, use scientific literature to write lab reports.  At each level, TAs who have been trained for this initiative provide formative and summative feedback on scaffolded assessments. We used pre-and-post test analysis to track these writing skills across courses. In this presentation, we will outline the steps involved in development of the initiative, curriculum map integration, TA training design, and provide examples of how we incorporated this initiative into core courses. We will also explore how our experience can inform similar efforts in other disciplines.

iii. The development of a basic assessment package for evaluating the effectiveness of writing instruction

Michael Kaler, Lecturer, Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre, UTM
Tyler Evans-Tokaryk, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream and Director, Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre, UTM

Incorporating increased amounts of writing instruction and instruction through writing to a course can be daunting. Part of the challenge involves devising tasks and material and integrating them into the course structure; another part, one that can strike fear into the heart of even the most dedicated instructor, involves assessing the impact of these interventions. In this presentation, I will discuss ways in which courses from across the disciplinary spectrum that have been supported by UTM’s Writing Development Initiative, along with the Initiative’s administrators, have addressed this concern, leading up to this year’s introduction of a streamlined, centrally administered basic assessment package for participating courses that may serve as an inspiration (or brainstorming tool) for instructors in other courses. Participants in this session will be exposed to a wide range of strategies for assessing writing, as well as a presentation of best practices and a sampling of our lessons learned in this journey; they will leave the session with additional tools for their assessment toolkits.

Assessment narratives at http://wpacouncil.org/assessment-models
Condon, William. Reinventing Writing Assessment: How the conversation is shifting. Writing Program Administration 34 (2011):162-182.
Condon, William, and Rutz, Carol. A Taxonomy of Writing Across the Curriculum Programs: Evolving to Serve Broader Agendas. College Composition and Communication 64 (2012):357-382.

1.4 Symposium-You: Graduate Training and Development

i. Graduate TA Training at the Department Level: A Reflection on Successful Strategies and Moving Forward

Andrew Dicks, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Chemistry
Kris Kim, Graduate Student, Chemistry

This roundtable discussion will be broadly focused on the following topic: what are the best ways to “teach graduate teaching assistants how to teach”?

The Department of Chemistry ran multi-hour “case-study based” TA training sessions for new graduate students during the fall of 2015 and 2016 (to approximately 70 students per year). The training largely dealt with best practices of being a TA in both laboratory and tutorial environments. These sessions were separate to the individualized training hours incorporated into the TA contracts associated with many chemistry undergraduate courses. An overview of session structure and content will be initially introduced by a teaching faculty member and graduate student who were instrumental in their development/facilitation. Following this, reflection will take place on TA training experiences encountered by the roundtable participants, with conversations about potential new approaches that make the most of available departmental/faculty resources, time, and expertise.

More specifically, discussion points will be framed around a number of questions, including:

  1. What are your “best practices” for running departmental TA training workshops, aside from those connected to specific undergraduate courses?
  2. If applicable, what restrictions are in place that prevent you offering the departmental TA training that you would like to?
  3. If you were to run a graduate-level course for new TAs, what would it look like in terms of content, format and formal requirements?

Participants will gain knowledge of current trends in TA training methodology at the University of Toronto, with implementation ideas to take back to their own department.

D. Denecke, et al. Professional Development: Shaping Effective Programs for STEM graduate students (2017).
M.R. Connolly, et al. Building a Better Future STEM Faculty: How Doctoral Teaching Programs Can Improve Undergraduate Education (2016).

ii. Sharing Best Practices of Graduate Professional Development Courses

Nana Lee, Lecturer, Biochemistry and Immunology

With the transformative innovative integration of a professional development course and program within the graduate curriculum (GPD) for the Departments of Biochemistry (2012) and Immunology (2014), other departments at the University of Toronto have initiated or enhanced their own. The GPD program, described as one which empowers trainees with skills to be market-ready, was highlighted in 2017 with three other North American STEM professional development programs by Council of Graduate Schools/National Science Foundation in their newly published report “Professional Development: Shaping Effective Programs for STEM Graduate Students.”

GPD is a quarter credit graduate-level course with the main teaching priorities being 1) reflection and self-assessment through individual development plans and after reading “Success After Graduate School”, 2) professional conduct in class and departmental activities, and 3) effective communications for self-marketing through networking, resume, cover letters, three minute thesis presentations, and interviews. Along with the course, each trainee is given a yearly follow-up in which to discuss IDP goals. With over 150 students alumni from GPD, most are still in training, but all of the 50+ trainees who have transitioned onto the first job have found the program helpful in attaining their first careers.

The development of GPD in other departments at the Faculty of Medicine has been created this academic year with the implementation of GFD, Graduate and Life Science Education (GLSE) Faculty Development Program Workshop Series, coordinated with the partnership with the School of Graduate Studies and with support from the SGS Dean’s Innovation Fund. GFD includes nine 2 hour workshops for faculty to optimize their supervisory mentorship or to initiate their own GPD courses. Topics include how to help students with IDPs, communications, conflict resolution, leadership, entrepreneurship, and experiential learning with the ultimate goals of increasing research productivity while developing career plans with decreased times to completion.

Our discussion will share best practices of GPD and GFD with all participants who are motivated in starting, renewing or changing their own professional development courses and programs. Discussion topics and takeaways may include 1) impact of current GPD courses with student experience or career outcomes, 2) ideal modes of student assessment such as written assignments and types of oral presentations, and 3) suggested ways to start a GPD course within the graduate curriculum, considering the current trainee program already in place.

1.5 Lightning Talks: Modes of Experiential Learning

i. Collaborative development and integration of a re-usable learning module in health science education

Erica Cambly, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing
Jana Lok, RN PhD, Lecturer, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing
Neal MacInnes, BA MA, Academic Information and Technology Supervisor, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing

Health science students must become proficient in a variety of clinical skills in order to provide safe and effective care. Administering injections can be a significant cause of stress for students as they lack clinical experience and may fear harming patients (Mahat, 1998). This can be overcome through effective instruction and supported learning.

Students are more engaged in skills training when they are taught in stimulating learning environments (McConville & Lane, 2006). Interactive modules present course content as an integrated learning experience. Studies have shown that combining traditional and technology-enhanced instructional methods is the most optimal instructional design for improving students’ clinical skills in practice (Bloomfield & Jones, 2013; Lahti et al., 2014). Health science students respond well to e-learning modules that are visually stimulating, interactive, concise, and aligned with their perceived learning needs (Brandt et al., 2010; Childs et al., 2005; Windle et al., 2011).

Educators across various health science professions developed an online re-usable content module pertaining to the administration of injections, which was then successfully integrated into their respective courses. This allowed better use of classroom time for activities and discussions that aimed to enhance large classroom learning. Learners were also able to access the module throughout their programs enabling them to review the material prior to working with clients in the practice setting.

This presentation will highlight the collaborative work done across three health science programs. The purpose and outcomes of this strategy as well as potential application to other courses will be discussed.

Bloomfield, J. & Jones, A. (2013). Using e-learning to support clinical skills acquisition: exploring  the experiences and perceptions of graduate first-year pre-registration nursing students – a mixed-method study. Nurse Education Today, 33, 1605-1611.
Brandt, B. F., PhD., Quake-Rapp, C., Shanedling, J., Spannaus-Martin, D., & Martin, P. (2010). Blended learning: Emerging best practices in allied health workforce development. Journal of Allied Health, 39(4), e167-72.
Childs, S., Blenkinsopp, E., Hall, A. & Walton, G. (2005). Effective e-learning for health professionals and students—barriers and their solutions. A systematic review of the literature—findings from the HeXL project. Health Information Library Journal, 22, Suppl     2, 20–32.
Lahti, M., Hätönen, H., & Välimäki, M. (2014). Impact of e-learning on nurses’ and student nurses knowledge, skills, and satisfaction: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 51, 136-149.
Mahat, G. (1998), Stress and Coping: Junior Baccalaureate Nursing Students in Clinical Settings. Nursing Forum, 33, 11–19.
McConville, S., Lane, A. (2006). Using on-line video clips to enhance self-efficacy toward dealing with difficult situations among nursing students. Nurse Education Today, 26, 200-208.Windle, R. J., McCormick, D., Dandrea, J. and Wharrad, H. (2011). The characteristics of reusable learning objects that enhance learning: A case-study in health-science education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42, 811–823.

ii. Creating, Not Just Labeling, Work Integrated Learning

Libby Whittington-West, Coordinator, Student Peer Programs, Career Centre
Ashley Stirling, Director of Experiential Education and Assistant Professor,  Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education.

While the pedagogical practice of experiential education and work integrated learning (WIL) is not new, there is an emergent focus in higher education on the provision of opportunity for students to gain work experience while they study and the need to ensure the quality of these educational experiences. When thinking about WIL, co-operative education is likely the first example that comes to mind. Other common examples of WIL include placements, internships, and practicum embedded within academic curriculum. This presentation summarizes the key elements of a well-structured WIL experience and provides an overview of the recent revitalization of University of Toronto’s Work Study programming to align more closely with the quality criterion of WIL and Kolb’s experiential learning theory. By the end of the session participants will be prepared to critically reflect on ways they may enhance or create WIL in the classroom.

Premier’s Highly Skilled Workforce Panel. (2016, June). Building the Workforce of Tomorrow: A Shared Responsibility. Retrieved from: www.ontario.ca/page/building-workforce-tomorrow-shared-responsibility
Stirling, A., Kerr, G., Banwell, J., MacPherson, E., & Heron, A. (2016). A Practical Guide for Work-Integrated Learning. Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. Retrieved from www.heqco.ca/en-ca/Research/ResPub/Pages/A-Practical-Guide-for-Work-integrated-Learning.aspx
Kolb, D. 1984. Experiential learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

iii. Experiential Course to Improve Career Readiness

Jan Mahrt-Smith Academic Director, Full-Time MBA and Associate Professor, Finance
Julie Foisy, Program Manager, Full-Time MBA Flexible Internship Program

U of T is ranked in the top 10 globally for producing highly employable students. As a business school, Rotman has always had to consider this aspect of teaching. Yet, as experiential learning and career readiness across all disciplines take on increased importance (see Provost Cheryl Regehr’s discussion in the November 12 issue of The Times Higher Education) other parts of U of T are also focusing on this area.

Rotman has created an innovative for-credit course that emphasizes self-development, guided reflection, and purposeful career progress as structured learning outcomes. It is built on top of the discipline-based knowledge learned in academic courses. It is experiential in nature and delivery. At Rotman it is delivered in conjunction with an internship, co-op, or other immersive placement in any organization, but it can be delivered without a placement.

This talk will discuss the following elements:

  1. Philosophy – joining an organization and becoming a “valuable” member quickly and effectively is a life skill directly related to the core learning in any discipline; therefore this skill can be learned and improved in a structured and repeatable way.
  2. Delivery – centered on mindful analysis, guided self-development, and purposeful reflection students learn and grow. A simple guiding principle runs through the course: how to make oneself “more valuable” to an organization in any chosen field. Deliverables, readings and research, meetings with instructors/mentors, reflective journal entries and a final paper provide structure.
  3. Data – observations and feedback from the first iteration with 120 students in 2016.

Bothwell, Ellie, “Employability: which university is doing the best by its students?” The Times Higher Education, November 12, 2015. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/employability-which-university-is-doing-the-best-by-its-students

1.6 Symposium-You: Designing for Student Mental Health

i. How much stress is enough for students and should there be any when re-designing the curriculum and courses?

William Ju, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Human Biology Program
Maria Papaconstantinou, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Human Biology Program
Sabina Trebinjac, Human Biology Program, Undergraduate student
Luke Bannon, Human Biology Program, Undergraduate student
Andrea Macanović, Human Biology Program, Undergraduate student
Kelly Aiello, Human Biology Program, Undergraduate student

Although originally described for second language acquisition, Stephen Krashen hypothesized that learning can be impeded by emotional variables that act as learning “acquisition filters” and that the largest emotional component involves stress ( Krashen, 1982). Still other research has shown that some psychological stress can be beneficial for overcoming challenges but high levels of stress are detrimental to the cognitive domain of memory and recall (Tomaka et al., 1997). In light of these contrasting views of the importance and impact of stress, how do educators and administrators take in to account student stress within courses and the impact on their learning? Should all programs and courses undertake to lower “stress barriers” to enhance learning or would this negatively impact other forms of learning in a course or program? What is the student viewpoint on how courses and curricula could be re-designed? Should instructors and programs/departments even be concerned with managing stress levels for students? In this discussion, we will identify both common and uncommon student stressors, highlight some of the corresponding changes made at the 3rd year level in the neuroscience program, the successes and challenges and how this relates to student mental health. Although the primary outcome of this mini-symposium is to create discourse around the suggested topics listed above, we hope to engage the broader university community across disciplines in issues related to the impact of student stress and also allow time for participants to identify both visible and invisible student stressors, network with other participants and to continue these discussions within their own units.

Krashen, Stephen. “Principles and practice in second language acquisition.” (1982).
Tomaka, Joe, et al. “Cognitive and physiological antecedents of threat and challenge appraisal.” Journal of personality and social psychology 73.1 (1997): 63.

ii. To Be or Not to Be?: Building Student Resiliency at U of T

Tanya Lewis, Director of Learning, Student Life, Director, Academic Success Centre and Director of Accessibility
Rahul Bhat, Learning Strategist, Project Lead, The Resiliency Project, Academic Success Centre
Bethany Osborne, Curriculum Consultant, The Resiliency Project

Resiliency is one of those terms that is getting a growing amount of attention, from researchers, from administrators, from funders. On one level, we know that we want our students to become more resilient, we want them to be able to weather the challenges that they encounter at U of T and beyond.  But, when it comes down to it, what is resiliency?  What does the literature tell us?  What does our experience tell us?  How can we support the development of more resilient students? (and is it really something that we have time for?) Can resiliency be learned, grown or measured?

In this Symposium-You session, facilitators will share briefly from their research and experience working with the Student Life Resiliency Project over the past year and a half in order to stimulate an interesting discussion on the successes and challenges of building both psychological and academic resiliency in students at U of T both inside and outside the classroom.

Duckworth, A.L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M.D., & Kelly, D.R. (2007).  Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, 1087-1101.
Gray, Peter (September 15, 2015). Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201509/declining-student-resilience-serious-problem-colleges
Kapur, Manu, and Katerine Bielaczyc. “Designing for productive failure.” Journal of the Learning Sciences 21.1 (2012): 45-83.
Kuh, G.D. (2008). High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter: A Brief Overview. Association of American Colleges and Universities. Retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/leap/hips

1.7. Interactive Workshop: Simulation 101: Fundamentals of Experiential Learning and Assessment

Jordan Holmes, Manager of Learning, Innovation and Simulation, Michener Institute of Education

Join Jordan Holmes, Manager of Learning, Innovation and Simulation at the Michener Institute of Education at University Health Network to explore the cornerstone of experiential learning in education: simulation.  In this one-hour, interactive session participants will:

  • Define simulation and its associated modalities
  • Explore the key learning theories that underpin simulation-based education
  • Understand the role of simulation in education and assessment
  • Explore best-practices in simulation methodology, including scenario development, maintaining a safe learning environment, and debriefing

Participants will explore simulation primarily through its applications in healthcare, though the concepts apply equally to education generally.  Participants will interact in a live simulation that will reinforce the learning objectives of the session and provide a basis for reflection and discussion.

Chiniara, G., Cole, G., Brisbin, K., Huffman, D., Cragg, B., Lamacchia, M., … Canadian Network For Simulation In Healthcare, Guidelines Working Group. (2013). Simulation in healthcare: A taxonomy and a conceptual framework for instructional design and media selection. Medical Teacher, 35(8), e1380–e1395. https://doi.org/10.3109/0142159X.2012.733451
Hodges, B. D., & Kuper, A. (2012). Theory and practice in the design and conduct of graduate medical education. Academic Medicine, 87(1), 25–33. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0b013e318238e069
Ziv, A., Wolpe, P. R., Small, S. D., & Glick, S. (2003). Simulation-based medical education: An ethical imperative. Academic Medicine, 78(8), 783–788.

1.8: Interactive Workshop: Introducing “learning how to learn” principles into a 3rd year course: Concepts and impact on the student experience

Tanya Kirsch, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Management, UTM

In combining learning science with pedagogy, a number of “Learning How to Learn” concepts from a Coursera “Massive Open Online Course” (MOOC) were introduced into the pedagogy of a third year Finance course with the aim of enhancing student learning both inside and outside the classroom. This practical session shares and discusses the ideas, tools and techniques of “Learning How to Learn” and highlights its impact on the student learning experience. The session is relevant to a variety of disciplines as the tools are generic, and not specific to the Finance course where they were introduced. The tools were used in a class size of 65 students, but can be applied equally to both small and large class formats.

In this workshop participants will:

  • be introduced to a number of tools that were shared in the classroom through video clips, readings and worksheets. In particular, the following learning tools will be reviewed: The Pomodoro Technique, The 30-Second Summary; The importance of retrieval in learning; Chunking; Interleaving; Practice makes Permanent; The importance of Exercise in Learning and The Importance of Sleep in Learning
  • gain insights into the impact on the student learning experience through an overview of the feedback from student evaluations of these tools

The session will actively engage participants through:

  • Review and discussion of concepts presented
  • Application of some of the concepts during the session (e.g. The Pomodoro technique; The 30-second summary)
  • Discussion of why students responded so positively to the “Learning How to Learn” tools?
  • Discussion of other ways MOOC’s could be used to add to the traditional classroom environment

Oakley, Barbara, Terrence Sejnowski, and Becca Judd. “Learning how to learn” course on Coursera
The Pomodoro Technique “Staying Focused during the day”  https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/pomodoro-technique.htm?utm_source=nl&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=09Sep14
Karpicke, Jeffrey D, and Henry L Roediger. “The Critical Importance of Retrieval for Learning.” Science 319, no. 5865 (2008): 966-68.
Scott, Robyn. “The 30 Second Habit That Can Have a Big Impact On Your Life.” Huffington Post, April 20, 2014.
Steven C. Pan, “The Interleaving Effect: Mixing It Up Boosts Learning,” Scientific American, August 4, 2015.
Stickgold, Robert, and Jeffrey M Ellenbogen. “Quiet! Sleeping Brain at Work.” Scientific American Mind 19, no. 4 (2008): 22-29.
Bransford, John D, A. L. Brown, R. R. Cocking, M Suzanne Donovan, and JW Pellegrino. “How People Learn.” Washington, DC:National Academy Press, 2000.
Jabr, Ferris. “Why walking helps us think”. The New Yorker. September 3, 2014

2pm – 2:15pm

2:15pm – 3:15pm

2.1 TALint at the University of Toronto: Launching and Sustaining an Internship Program

Julie Hannaford, Deputy Chief Librarian, University of Toronto Libraries
Siobhan Stevenson, Associate Professor, iSchool and Director, iSchool Coop Program

Work-integrated learning (WIL) has gained significant traction within contemporary policy and educational discourses dealing with post-secondary institutions. (Stirling et al, 2016) To enhance the WIL offerings at the iSchool and provide a valuable recruitment tool, the Faculty of Information, in partnership with the University of Toronto Libraries (UTL) launched the Toronto Academic Libraries Internship (TALint) Program in 2014. The program is only made available to incoming iSchool students, with at least an A- average. The program, which combines employment with a rich range of mentoring activities is intended to  “provide interns with the opportunity to not only enhance the quality of their learning, but also strengthen the profession by creating future leaders who will meet the complexities inherent in the libraries, archives and records management fields” (Professor Wendy Duff, http://www.ischool.utoronto.ca/content/talint-program).
The coordinators of this program are now actively assessing outcomes and impact. Despite its growing popularity as a pedagogical strategy, there are numerous challenges associated with assessing student learning outcomes within the WIL context, some of which include: “assessing higher-order reasoning in practice; the oversimplification of assessment; and the recognition of work integrated learning assessment in institutional policies” (Cooper, Orwell & Bowden, 2010, 100). This workshop will provide background on the program, discuss the research done to date and encourage participants to reflect on how they might implement a similar program. Current TALint students will be asked to attend, so that the student experience can be directly queried by workshop attendees.


  • Provide a model for implementation for others who may be considering such a program.
  • Review lessons learned, and best practices, based on our ongoing assessment of the program, including assessment tools (surveys and focus groups).
  • Outline the mentoring practices we have found to be most effective.
  • Experience with creating an actual student learning agenda.
  • Develop a community of interest at the University.

The workshop will use small group discussions to encourage attendees to consider how they might apply a similar model within their own faculty/department.  Specifically:

  • Attendees are asked to come prepared to think about/discuss the student learning outcomes associated with their degree program. These may be degree, program or course specific.
  • Using a template adapted from the literature and the presenters’ own experiences, participants will write a set of learning goals and strategies to achieve those goals within a workplace context for an imagined student in their program.

Cooper, Lesley, Orrell, Janice and Margaret Bowden. (2010).  Work Integrated Learning: A Guide to Effective Practice. New York: Routledge
Stirling, A.; Kerr, G.; Banwell, J., MacPherson E; and Heron, A. (2016). A Practical Guide for Work Integrated Learning. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council for Ontario.

2.2 Constructing and Implementing a New Assessment Methodology in a Large Undergraduate Classroom

Michael deBraga, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre
Sherry Fukuzawa, Sessional Instructor, Department of Anthroplogy, UTM

The Graded Response Method (GRM) represents an alternative assessment and teaching tool. In collaboration with an instructor in a first-year Anthropology course (ANT101 – co-investigator), the developer of the GRM was able to assess its value against a validated set of MC questions grounded in the 6 levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. Correlation between GRM questions and higher order multiple choice questions (Bloom’s taxonomy level 5 & 6) has been shown to be moderate (R2 0.25), with a very strong correlation (R2 0.54) between GRM and short answer questions types for the Final Exam in ANT101. In this session, we will demonstrate how the GRM works and discuss the challenges and benefits of its implementation. Although, we are confident that the GRM will encourage deeper reasoning on the part of students, we are aware that implementing this question type can be a challenge. In this workshop, we will provide an opportunity to explore the design of the GRM assessment by having participants construct their own GRM questions. Strategies and a specific methodology will be examined through interactive audience participation. The audience will experience how the GRM can be used as an assessment as well as a co-operative, active learning methodology that can help revitalize the student and instructor experience. Participants are asked to bring along samples of MC questions to help facilitate construction of GRM style questions. Participation in this workshop will provide participants with an alternative assessment and teaching strategy aimed at rejuvenating their own pedagogical practice.

deBraga, M., Boyd, C., & Abdulnour, S. (2015). Using the Principles of SoTL to Redesign an Advanced Evolutionary Biology Course. Teaching & Learning Inquiry 3(1), 15-29.
Felten, P. (2013). Principles of good practice in SoTL. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 1(1), 121-125. doi: 10.1353/iss.2013.0013
Krathwhol, D (2002). A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview. THEORY INTO PRACTICE, 41(4), 212-218.
Leshowitz, B., DiCerbo, K.E., & Symington, S. (1999). Effective thinking: an active-learning course in critical thinking. Current Issues in Education, 2(5), 1-12.

2.3 Curating experiences: Dimensions of LxD 

Elisabeth Rees-Johnstone, Executive Director, Continuing Professional Learning, OISE

In our “always-connected” world of social and interactive media, today’s professionals are acquiring information and collaborating with colleagues in dynamic ways and this is true of their learning experiences as well.  The Curating Experiences: Dimensions of LxD session shares how the synthesis of user experience design methodology, instructional systems design and pedagogy are challenging educators to build and promote ‘complete learning experiences’. Through enhanced lecture, e-polling and a group exercise, you will:

  • Identify the shifts in technology, media, consumer behaviour and pedagogy which are shaping learning experience design
  • Review the six evaluation dimensions of learning experience design and consider how these dimensions are impacting approaches to developing and delivering learning solutions
  • Reference a design template to develop a learning persona
  • Engage with examples of learning experience design solutions such as storytelling and learner/facilitator co-construction

2.4 Research on Teaching & Learning: Designing for Online Learning

i. Student reactions to receiving various forms of online help

Ashley Waggoner Denton, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Psychology
Kate Guan, Undergraduate Student, Psychology
Christina Jeon, Undergraduate Student, Psychology
Chantal Liu, Undergraduate Student, Psychology

Previous research has shown that receiving autonomy-oriented help (which gives one the tools to solve problems on one’s own) is generally much more useful than receiving dependency-oriented help (in which one is given the answer, but no explanation; e.g., Nadler, 1997, 2002). More recent work has focused on reactions not just to the help itself, but to the helper (person providing the help) as a function of the type of help received (Alvaraz & Van Leeuwen, 2011). This work has shown that students evaluate peers (but not experts) who provide autonomy-oriented help in a negative fashion, which is potentially problematic and detrimental to learning in the long run. This work has not, however, examined help-seeking behaviour in an online (e.g., discussion board) context. It has also not examined the consequences of providing blended help (providing both the answer and the explanation). My students and I sought to examine the effects of help type (autonomy, dependency, or blended) and the source of help (expert, peer) on both learning outcomes and subjective evaluations (i.e., reactions to the help and helper) in the context of a laboratory experiment in which participants believed they were pilot testing a class from a new online course. Results indicate that students responded the most positively (e.g., felt less anger, annoyance, frustration) to receiving blended help, particularly when that help comes from a peer rather than a TA. Notably, students who received online help from a TA felt less capable of solving problems on their own, compared to students who received the exact same help from a peer. The implications and future directions of this research will be discussed.

Alvarez, K. & Van Leeuwen, E. (2011). To teach or to tell? Consequences of receiving help from experts and peers. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 397-402.
Nadler, A. (1997). Personality and help seeking: Autonomous versus dependent seeking of help. In R. Gregory, Lakey, Brian, Sarason, G. Irwin, & R. Barbara (Eds.), Sourcebook of social support and personality (pp. 379-407).
Nadler, A. (2002). Inter-group helping relations as power relations: Maintaining or challenging social dominance between groups through helping. Journal of Social Issues, 58, 487-502.

ii. Getting and keeping their attention: Scalable design strategies

Laurie Harrison, Director, Online Learning Strategies
Hedieh Najafi, Researcher, Online Learning Strategies
Rosemary Evans, Principal, University of Toronto Schools
Jim Slotta, Associate Professor, Curriculum, Teaching & Learning, OISE
Stian Haklev, Postdoctoral researcher, EPFL

To increase online learners’ motivation and improve retention in online courses, instructors may draw on guidelines from motivational design models to inform instructional design within a course. A framework we have found particularly helpful is Keller’s (2010) ARCS Model of Motivational Design (Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction). Student persistence in an online learning experience has been shown to be linked to motivation, and is dependent on satisfaction and relevance (Park & Choi, 2009), as well as a sense of belonging to the learning community (Hart, 2012).

Within the University of Toronto setting, lessons learned from MOOCs and other large online courses have broad general applicability in the design of engaging online learning experiences for all our students. In particular, this session will describe research related to scalable design ideas that facilitate development of transferable learning strategies such as critical thinking and self-reflection to ensure personal relevance.

Specific illustrative examples from a recent MOOC project are as follows:

  • Allowing learners to self-select topics for exploration, based on relevance and applicability
  • Supporting critical reflection to support meta-cognitive processes, building confidence and depth of integration
  • Using scalable communication and feedback strategies.

While this presentation focuses primarily on research on motivation and retention derived from larger sized online classes, examples described may be equally useful in face-to-face courses.

Hart, C. (2012). Factors associated with student persistence in an online program of study: A review of the literature. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 11(1), 19-42.
Keller, J. M. (2010). The ARCS model of motivational design. In Motivational Design for Learning and Performance (pp. 43-74). Springer US.
Park, J. H., & Choi, H. J. (2009). Factors influencing adult learners’ decision to drop out or persist in online learning. Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 207-217.
Najafi, H. (2017). Motivation and Retention in Large Online Courses

iii. Who enrols and who succeeds in an online programming course?

Jennifer Campbell, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Computer Science
Diane Horton, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Computer Science
Michelle Craig, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Computer Science

When students can choose to take a course online or face- to-face, who chooses each format? We compared an online section of our introductory computer programming course to a concurrent face-to-face flipped section and found that the populations in the two sections were very different [1].  Although final exam scores were not significantly different for the online and flipped sections, we did find significant differences in drop rates. Others have also reported higher drop rates in online courses than in face-to-face [2, 3]. Given that we plan to continue offering online options for our students, we aim to identify factors associated with success in our online course. We have examined factors that are under students’ own control such as how fully they participate in ungraded but important learning activities, and other factors that we may be able to manipulate and improve, such as students’ skills for self-regulated learning [4]. We have found important differences between the online and flipped sections regarding what behaviours and attributes were associated with success. While completion of unmarked practice exercises was a factor for both sections, test anxiety and self-efficacy were factors only for the online section.

[1] D. Horton, J. Campbell, and M. Craig. Online cs1: Who enrols, why, and how do they do? In Proceedings of the 47th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE ’16, pages 323–328, 2016.
[2] S. Carr. As distance education comes of age, the challenge is keeping the students. Chronicle of higher education, 46(23), 2000.
[3] Y. Levy. Comparing dropouts and persistence in e-learning courses. Computers & education, 48(2):185–204, 2007.
[4] J. Campbell, D. Horton, and M. Craig. Factors for Success in Online CS1. In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, ITiCSE ’16, pages 320-325, 2016.

2.5 Lightning Talks: Intersections – Where Assignments Meet Experience

i. Engaging industry in the classroom: the design of an informational interview assignment to enhance understanding of professional communication

Alison McGuigan, Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry
Lydia Wilkinson, Engineering Communication Program

As instructors, we understand the importance of keeping our teaching current by designing curricula that accurately captures the evolving needs and norms of the workplace. Within our applied field of engineering/engineering communication, this need is particularly significant: not only do industry connections in the classroom help us maintain our currency, but they also operate as a useful teaching tool to engage reluctant students who may resent required communication instruction within an otherwise technical curriculum.

This talk will describe an assignment that connects students with professional contacts in an advisory capacity. In our second-year communication course in Chemical Engineering, students are required to find a professional engineer or someone in a related field to interview about communication challenges that they have experienced in the workplace. Following the interview, students follow-up with an email to their professional contact that summarizes and clarifies their key takeaways from the meeting. Next, they prepare a class presentation that reports on the issues identified and proposes solutions based on content we have covered in the course. This assignment provides students with an opportunity to network with an industry contact while practicing professional communication skills via email and interview, and reviewing course concepts. At the same time, it provides the instructional team with important insights into the issues that arise in today’s workplace, providing us with a benchmark for the relevance of these concepts. Furthermore, it increases buy in from our students by reminding them that the course is relevant and important for their future careers.

ii. The flipped placement: a renewed approach to work-integrated learning in the Master of Professional Kinesiology curriculum

Ashley Stirling, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education
Scott Thomas, Professor and Director Master of Professional Kinesiology, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education
Gretchen Kerr, Professor and Vice-Dean, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education

Learning through experience in the workplace and community is an embedded part of curriculum in many areas of professional education, with typical approaches to work integrated learning (WIL) including practicum, internships, and worksite placements1,2,3. The recently launched Master of Professional Kinesiology (MPK) programme, in the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, was intentionally designed to provide students with advanced-level education, hands-on practice, and opportunities for work integrated learning. Distinct from the Faculty’s traditional placements, where students are matched with mentors in the community and engage in authentic work experiences related to their course of study, for the MPK programme, a novel approach to WIL – termed structured experiential learning opportunities (SELOs), was created, leveraging the integrated nature of our Faculty and building enhanced intersections between education, research, and community service. In the SELOs, MPK students gain hands-on kinesiology experience working directly with clients in one of the areas of: high performance sport, chronic disease and mental health, children and youth, and musculoskeletal health and concussion. Through these SELOs, four new kinesiology programmes were developed within the Faculty that offer novel and/or augmented kinesiology services for U of T/GTA community members. This presentation will provide a summary of the development and first year of delivery of the SELOs, with highlights provided on strengths and challenges incurred. Recommendations will be posed for ways in which others can innovate and redesign work integrated learning approaches in their own teaching contexts.

1 Patrick, C-j., Peach, D., Pocknee, C., Webb, F., Fletcher, M., Pretto, G. (2008, December). The WIL [Work Integrated Learning] report: A national scoping study [Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Final report]. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology. Retrieved online at: www.altc.edu.au
2 Billett, S, (2009). Realising the educational worth of integrating work experiences in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 34(7), 827-843.
3 O’Shea, A. (2014). Models of WIL. In S. Ferns (ed.), Work integrated learning in the curriculum. Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia guide (pp. 7-14). Australia Collaboration Education Network Ltd.

iii. Forging links between the classroom and society: student-designed outreach activities enhance learning in biology

Aarthi Ashok, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Biological Sciences, UTSC
Trisha Mahtani, Teaching Assistant, Biological Sciences, UTSC and Ph.D. candidate, Cell & Systems Biology Graduate Program

Undergraduate biology students, much like many established scientists, are acutely aware of the importance of public support of and interest in scientific research in today’s society. Some former students have vocalized the importance of communicating biological concepts, especially those of relevance to public health, to young adults who may never pursue a degree in biology or indeed higher education. Inspired by these student voices and other scientific opinions that strongly advocate for the role of public outreach in the development of budding scientists (e.g. (1), (2)), we designed a pilot outreach activity in a 4th year course entitled Pathobiology of Human Disease. Our primary goal was for students to use their advanced knowledge of biological processes to develop an interactive and informative activity for a non-expert audience (e.g. young adults, kindergarteners, seniors in a continuing education course) that would empower our students to utilize and reflect on their course based learning. Students developed both an in-class presentation as well as a written description of their outreach activity which included learning goals, a listing of required materials, details on how the activity was conducted and means by which they would measure participant learning. Importantly, students also reported on what they learned as they designed this activity. We present examples of student work to highlight the important learning gains for students in this assignment as well as to engage instructors across disciplines in a broader discussion of authentic assignments that that forge links between the classroom and society.

Aalbers CJ, Groen JL, Sivapalaratnam S. 2010. More outreach for young scientists. Nature 467:401-401)
Varner J. 2014. Scientific outreach: Toward effective public engagement with biological science. Bioscience 64:333-340.

2.6 Research on Teaching & Learning: Supporting Student Learning Through Course and Instructional Design

i. Mixed Response of Students to a Blended Format in an Introductory Nutrition Course

Debbie Gurfinkel, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Nutritional Sciences

This presentation will describe an in-progress research study of the impact, on student learning, of the conversion of, Basic Human Nutrition, an introductory course, from a conventional lecture format to a blended format, which combines online materials and face-to-face lectures. This course renewal was undertaken because students did not rate lectures highly for intellectual stimulation.

Educational research suggests that the combination of online and face-to-face components promotes student learning (Caulfield 2011; Garrison & Vaugh 2008).  The plan for Basic Human Nutrition, was to place the more basic content online, as narrated PowerPoint presentations, supported by exercises, allowing students to work independently and promoting self-directed learning.  Face-to-face class time was reserved for more intellectually-stimulating topics and active learning exercises, intended to promote critical thinking.  During the 2016 fall term, 1/3 of the course was converted to a blended format and instructor observations on redesigning a 500-student introductory nutrition course, will be presented, focusing on the creation of effective exercises.

Students were surveyed on their perceptions of learning for the blended format, and these will be presented. Some results: When asked about the narrated PowerPoint presentations about 51% of students found that they contributed mostly (26%) or a great deal (24%) to their learning. They rated face-to-face lectures more highly at 78%; mostly (37%) or a great deal (41%).  About 50% of students would recommend the blended portion of the course to others, mostly (34%) or highly (16%). These results suggest that the blended format yields a mixed response from students.

Caulfield J: How to Design and Teach a Hybrid Course (Stylus Publishing, 2011)
Garrison DR and Vaughan ND: Blended Learning in Higher Education (Jossey-Bass, 2008).

ii. Fit-Breaks: A Physical Activity-Based Intervention for the University Classroom

Jessica Dere, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Psychology, UTSC
Brian Harrington, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, UTSC
Alyona Koulanova, Undergraduate Student, UTSC
Aryel Lutchmie-Maharaj, Undergraduate Student, UTSC

When considering methodologies to transform higher education, physical activity is often an afterthought – a hobby in which students can engage as an extracurricular activity. However, physical activity can be used as both a classroom tool to improve retention, engagement, and well-being, as well to teach students a healthy habit they can carry forward as a life skill. The literature on physical activity, and its impact on cognitive functioning and positive mood, supports integrating “Fit-Breaks” throughout the day (Bray & Born, 2004; Budde, Voelcker-Rehage, Pietraßyk-Kendziorra, Ribeiro, & Tidow, 2008). We believe that bringing physical activity into the classroom setting, and ultimately creating a healthier campus culture that emphasizes overall student health, can have a large-scale impact.

In the fall term of 2016, the natural 10-minute lecture break of a large introductory computer science class was transformed into a Fit-Break: a combination of various exercises and stretches. Students responded to brief stress and well-being measures on a weekly basis in exchange for the opportunity to earn a bonus grade. We investigated whether this easily replicable and simple physical activity intervention in the classroom can have a positive impact on student stress, well-being, physical activity habits, and academic performance. Preliminary results indicate that students enjoyed Fit-Breaks as a means to re-energize for the second half of lecture, with positive trends on well-being, stress, and academic performance compared to students who did not participate in Fit-Breaks. This session will be focused on sharing the results of our initial study.

Bray, S. & Born, H. (2004). Transition to University and Vigorous Physical Activity. Implications for Health and Psychological Well-Being. Journal of American College Health, Vol. 52, No. 4, 181-187.
Budde, H., Voelcker-Rehage, C., Pietraßyk-Kendziorra, S., Ribeiro, P., & Tidow, G. (2008). Acute coordinative exercise improves attentional performance in adolescents. Neuroscience letters, 441(2), 219-223.\

iii. Supporting Mathematics Undergraduate Students to Improve Academic Skills

Zohreh Shahbazi, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, UTSC
Nancy Johnston, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Women’s and Gender Studies, HCS and Associate Director, Centre for Teaching and Learning, UTSC

In upper-level mathematics courses, students experience anxiety about writing their research assignments.  To explore the problem and solutions, we conducted classroom action research and designed a pre- and post-survey based on researchers’ observations and past experiences on students’ learning and writing skills in the winter of 2016.  The pre-test survey revealed that 92% of students had minimal academic writing experience–they had written one research paper, if that.  As such, we created a hands-on writing workshop tailored to math students which introduced mathematics writing using a combination of student and academic models to focus on the conventions of discipline and satisfy the goals of the particular assignment. The post-test survey and class documents revealed that the students found the writing support and practice helpful in learning skills that they could use in their future studies and careers.  In this session, we would like to share our research method and results for teaching the writing process in mathematics and encourage other science courses to provide writing support to their students.

Bean, John C. 2001. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. Jossey-Bass.
Beaufort, Anne. 2007. College Writing and Beyond: A New Framework for University Writing Instruction. Utah State U P.

2.7 Lightning Talks: Instructional Design for the Contemporary World

i. Teaching AIDS, Aids to Teaching: Queer Pedagogy and the Epidemic

Scott Rayter, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Sexual Diversity Studies/English
Rodney Rousseau, PhD Candidate, Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, and Instructor in Health Studies/Sexual Diversity Studies

This presentation takes up questions of interdisciplinary pedagogy that arise through the team-teaching of an introductory course on HIV/AIDS, offered jointly by Health Studies and Sexual Diversity Studies. Instructors from those programs, and from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Faculty of Medicine, teach students who are enrolled in a variety of FAS programs, many in the Life Sciences.  The course has three modules: biomedical understandings of HIV/AIDS; the social determinants of health; and the representation of people with HIV/AIDS, along with culture and activism of the HIV/AIDS movement. Through our cross-disciplinary approach students come to know the “basic science” of HIV/AIDS through a lens that interrogates how political context, fear, bigotry, and ignorance have fuelled the production of misinformation intricately linked to historical and persistent stigma, violence, and discrimination (Sturken). The course therefore allows us to examine the politics, practices, discourses, and business of science research (Epstein).  Assignments and classroom activities provide integrative learning opportunities (Haynes) to think critically about “science” and truth claims, objectivity, positivism, and the narratives of simple “cures” that are recurrently “just around the corner”.  Using art, film, and literature about and by people with or affected by HIV/AIDS (and sometimes through in-class guest speakers), we examine the ways interpretation, subjective experience, and affective response operate—especially when dealing with (queer) sexuality—and how they have the potential to disrupt and challenge oversimplified explanations or solutions, in both local and transnational contexts).

Epstein, S.  (1998). Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Haynes, C. (Ed.). (2002). Innovations in Interdisciplinary Teaching. Westport, CT: American Council on Education/Oryx Press.
Sturken, M. (1997). Tangled Memories: The Vietnam War, the AIDS Epidemic, and the Politics of Remembering. Berkeley: University of California Press.

ii. Challenges and Opportunities – Chinese Curriculum Change at UTM

Ruhui Ni, Lecturer, Language Studies, UTM

The Department of Language Studies at University of Toronto Mississauga offers a series of Chinese language and culture elective courses for students with various backgrounds. The number of students intending to enroll in a Chinese course continued to grow over the past decade. The composition of interested students has also become more diversified over time, with increasing heterogeneity in language background and Chinese proficiency level. To deal with the challenge presented by the increasing student quantity and diversity, we developed and put in place a new placement questionnaire in 2014 in order to capture as accurately as possible the language background and proficiency level of students. Based on the result of the placement questionnaire, we have made more informed placement decisions and necessary adjustments to the curriculum to accommodate the student diversity of the class. In this presentation we will discuss the challenges that we face, the struggles that we have been through, and the opportunities that have arisen during the process of curriculum change. Moreover, we will present the outcomes of early curriculum changes, as well as ideas for further implementation aiming at greatly strengthening the Chinese section in terms of its academic integrity and rigor. We will end the presentation with a discussion of some preliminary ideas of expanding the scope of existing Chinese curriculum to include experiential learning and multilingual professionalism.

iii. Indigenizing Curriculum and Pedagogy at the University of Toronto Mississauga

Tyler Evans-Tokaryk, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream and Director, Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre, UTM

Co-presenters are members of the Indigenizing Curriculum and Pedagogy Working Group:
Miranda Brar, Student, UTM
Cat (Mark) Criger, Traditional Indigenous Aboriginal Elder, UTM
Ken Derry, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Historical Studies, UTM
Sean Kinsella, Coordinator of Residential Transition Programs, UTMNicole Laliberte, Assistant Professor, Geography, UTM
Angela Mashford-Pringle, Sessional Lecturer, Sociology, UTM
Luisa Schwartzman, Assistant Professor, Sociology, UTM
Carolan Wood, Limited Term Lecturer, Anthropology, UTM
Elizabeth Ibarra, Alumni, UTM

With the release of “Answering the Call: Wecheehetowin”, the University of Toronto Steering Committee Truth and Reconciliation Commission report in January 2017, there has been an increased focus on how to Indigenize the University of Toronto at all divisions and levels. At the University of Toronto Mississauga the Office of the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean created The UTM Indigenous Initiatives Task Force with the intention of finding ways to Indigenize the campus.
This presentation will present the current work of the Indigenizing Curriculum and Pedagogy Working Group at UTM and share findings and best practises around utilizing Indigenous methodologies and pedagogies in the classroom for faculty members. Topics will range from the integration of Indigenous content across the curriculum to the implementation of Indigenous pedagogical practices in the classroom to the politics of Indigenous pedagogical practice in a predominately non-Indigenous institution.

The goals of this presentation are three-fold. The first is to share what the Indigenous Initiatives Task Force at University of Toronto Mississauga is proposing to do to address the Calls to Action laid out by the TRC Steering Committee in its final report. The second is to provide some examples of what Indigenous pedagogy can look like – even in a conference setting. And the third is to provide participants with materials and ideas for how to initiate or continue working on ways to Indigenize their own curriculums and teaching praxis.

Battiste, M. (2008). The Struggle and Renaissance of Indigenous Knowledge in Eurocentric Education. In M. Villegas, S. R. Neugebauer, & K. R. Venegas (Eds.), Indigenous Knowledge and Education: Sites of Struggel, Strength, and Survivance (pp. 85–92). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Educational Review.

Battiste, M. (2013). Displacing Cognitive Imperialism. In Decolonizing Education: Nourishing the Learning Spirit (pp. 158–166). Saskatoon, SK: Purich Publishing Limited.

Burkhart, B. Y. (2004). What Coyote and Thales can teach us: An Outline of American Indian education. In A. Waters (Ed.), American Indian thought: Philosophical essays (pp. 15–26). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Curwen Doige, L. A. (2003). A Missing Link: Between Traditional Aboriginal Education and the Western System of Education. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 27(2), 144–160.

Holmes, F. K. (2014). Indigenous Relatedness within Educational Contexts. In B. Van Wyk & D. Adeniji-Neill (Eds.), Indigenous Concepts of Education: Toward Elevating Humanity for All Learners (pp. 87–100). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kanu, Y. (2005). Decolonizing Indigenons Education: Beyond Culturalism: Toward Post-cultural Strategies.Comparative and International Education / Éducation Comparée et Internationale, 34(2), 1–20.

Laliberté, N., Catungal, J., Castleden, H., Keeling, A., Momer, B., and Nash, C. (2015) “Teaching the geographies of Canada: Reflections on pedagogy, curriculum, and the politics of teaching and learning.” The Canadian Geographer 59(4): 519-531.

Lambe, Jeff. (2003). Indigenous Education, Mainstream Education and Native Studies: Some Considerations When Incorporating Indigenous Pedagogy into Native Studies.  American Indian Quarterly.  27(1 & 2).

Lindsay, William. (2010). Redman in the Ivory Tower: First Nations Students and Negative Classroom Environments in the University Setting. Canadian Journal of Native Studies. 30(1).

Mashford-Pringle, A. and Nardozi, A. (2013). Aboriginal Knowledge Infusion in Initial Teacher Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. The International Indigenous Policy Journal. 4(4).

Saunders, S. E. R., & Hill, S. M. (2007). Native Education and in-Classroom Coalition-Building: Factors and Models in Delivering an Equitous Authentic Education. Canadian Journal of Education, 30(4), 1015–1045.

Stairs, A. (1994). Indigenous Ways to Go to School: Exploring Many Visions. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 15(1), 63–76.

Stewart, S.; Reeves, A. (2013). Intersections of Career Development and Post-Secondary Education for Indigenous Students: Exploring the Integrity of Social and Cultural Issues. The Canadian Journal of Career Development 12(2).

2.8 Symposium-You: Deepening Student Understanding and Engagement

i. Houston, we have a problem! Major misconceptions retained by 3rd-year students

Valerie Watt, Associate Professor, Physiology

Standardized testing revealed that many of our senior Life Sciences students retain major misconceptions about fundamental concepts in biology, including evolution and the central dogma of molecular biology. In this session, we will focus on our current teaching practices, as well as individual and collective pedagogical changes going forward to address this problem.

Overarching Discussion Question: How can we utilize current learning theory and practice to enable our students to understand and remember major concepts in biology?

Discussion Points:

  1. In an ideal situation, what new evidence-based successes in teaching and learning biology would we want to integrate into our current courses?
  2. Currently at U of T, what challenges do we need to overcome to make changes to teaching practice and learning outcomes?
  3. In our departmental courses and programs, what available tools create the most successful integration of new educational initiatives?
  4. Crossing departmental boundaries, can we inspire interest in developing a coordinated process of learning and teaching major biology concepts throughout our students’ Life Sciences programs?

Stockwell et al 2015. Blended Learning Improves Science Education. Cell 162 p. 933
Crowe et al 2008. Biology in Bloom: Implementing Bloom’s Taxonomy to Enhance Student Learning in Biology. CBE Life Sci Educ 7 p.368

ii. Capturing Student Attention and Achieving True Learning in an Online Course Setting

Jan Mahrt-Smith Academic Director, Full-Time MBA and Associate Professor, Finance
Jeff Quinlan, Manager, Digital Learning, Rotman

Rotman is creating a new online course on academic integrity and plagiarism prevention skills. It is deliberately structured as a course with learning outcomes, deliverables, lectures, and feedback. We believe that the current approach to teaching academic integrity using static documents, passive videos, talks and the availability of advice that students may or may not seek out … can be improved. We will design a Rotman specific course and a non-specific version.

We will use what we know about online course design from traditional academic courses and apply it to this setting.

The main reason for having this session is to work on solutions for a problem that many departments face, whether they are designing courses or modules or workshops online: how to create and maintain interest in true learning for a subject that students may not be naturally inclined to love. We know that the skills associated with academic integrity are actually valued in the modern economy – but students may not think so. How do we structure a course to engage, captivate, and maintain attention? How do we attach importance to something that students may not understand as valuable? How do we ensure students will not constantly look for a way to “hack” the course and simply “pass” without learning? We have some ideas, but would like to have a discussion with others. We hope to generate many transferable hacks that we can all use as instructors to make online courses true learning experiences.

3:15pm – 3:30pm

3:30pm – 4:30pm

3.1 Creating Pathways for Sustainability in U of T Courses

Hilary Inwood, Lecturer, Curriculum, Teaching & Learning, OISE
John Robinson, Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs, School of the Environment, and Presidential Advisor on the Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability
Emily Shaw, Student
Danielle Pal, Student

Sustainability is the one of the defining issues of our time, and while many at U of T are responding to this challenge through innovative research, only a small number of courses are addressing it in explicit ways.  Many universities are working towards a clear presence for climate change, environmental issues, and sustainability practices in their courses (Coops et al, 2015; Inwood & Jagger, 2014;  Marcus, Coops & Robinson, 2015; Sherman & Burns, 2015), positioning higher education as part of the front-line response to this crisis by helping students develop the skills and knowledge needed to become active and engaged citizens  This interactive workshop begins an open conversation between faculty and students about the ways in which sustainability—conceived holistically as improvements in both environmental and human wellbeing, can and should be addressed as part of curriculum change and course renewal at U of T as an important way of contributing to positive societal change.  By discussing different pathways to the integration of sustainability into existing U of T courses, two faculty members and their students will present and compare a range of pedagogical approaches that are currently in use, including course integrations, internal/external community-engaged learning, and co-curricular learning opportunities.  Participants will discuss these pathways, analyze their benefits and challenges, and identify the supports they need to integrate ES into their own courses moving forward.

Coops, N., Construt, J., Frank, E., Kellett, R., Mazzi, E., Munro, A., Nesbit, S., Riseman, A., Robinson, J., Schultz, A., & Sipos, Y.  (2015). How an entry level, interdisciplinary sustainability course revealed the benefits and challenges of a university-wide initiative for sustainability education.  International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 16(5), 729 – 747.
Inwood, H. & Jagger, S. (2014). DEEPER: Deepening Environmental Education in Pre-service Education Resource. Toronto, ON: Ontario institute for Studies in Education.
Marcus, J., Coops, N., Ellis, S., & Robinson, J. (2015).  Embedding sustainability learning pathways across the university.  Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 16(7), 7-13.
Sherman, J. & Burns, H. (2015). ‘Radically different learning’: implementing sustainability pedagogy in a university peer mentor program.  Teaching in Higher Education, 20(3), 231-243.

3.2 I meant to say that!: How purposeful errors can produce greater levels of active learning

William Ju, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Human Biology Program

Pedagogical research on student learning has tended to focus on methods to enhance memory retention and recall – including how to use meta-cognitive processes, the importance of application of course material and research into active learning exercises (summarized in Wilson, 2015). However, in addition to the well-documented traditional forms of active learning and engagement, recent neurocognitive research suggests that engaging the limbic (or emotional) brain may enhance working memory and retention to an even greater extent (Putnam, Sungkhasettee, Roediger, 2017). Specifically, when the brain processes misinformation (or purposeful errors), the activation of this “misinformation” pathway has been shown greatly enhance working memory. In this workshop participants will be shown how to create purposeful errors to enhance learning within courses versus traditional in-class polling – both for individual learners and for in-class peer-learning. Participants in this workshop will have a mock demonstration of how these activities can be performed in both small seminar courses as well as in larger courses, and how creating purposeful errors during class lectures or discussions can improve and deepen student learning and engagement. In addition to the outcomes listed above, participants will have an opportunity to share their ideas for how this can be implemented within their own classrooms through an online padlet.

Wilson, Donna (2015): Put working memory to work in learning: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/put-working-memory-to-work-donna-wilson-marcus-conyers (accessed 2017/02/27)
Adam L. Putnam, Victor W. Sungkhasettee, and Henry L. Roediger  (2017) “When Misinformation Improves Memory: The Effects of Recollecting Change” Psychological Science Vol. 28(1) 36 –46

3.3 Laying the Groundwork: Getting started with a curriculum change initiative

Jessie Richards, Curriculum Developer, Office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education
Alison Gibbs, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream & Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies, Statistical Sciences

Curriculum renewal can be inspired by changes in technology, disciplinary advances, or changing social or economic climates. Whether we want to make small tweaks to a few courses or fully re-think an entire program of study, following some guiding principles during the renewal process can help ensure that our students’ learning experiences support them in achieving the aims of our programs. In this interactive workshop, participants will be introduced to the curriculum renewal process, with a focus on how to get an initiative started. Participants will be given an overview of the entire process, and then each of the early stages will be addressed in detail. As each stage is addressed, an example from a current University of Toronto initiative will illustrate how the department progressed through each step, providing practical context for concepts introduced. In groups, participants will work through the first few stages in the process for a sample curriculum change initiative. Each group will brainstorm the information to be gathered in preparing for renewal, establishing a vision for their program, and developing program learning outcomes. The overall goal of the session is that participants will have a taste of what is involved in a curriculum renewal project, which will enable them to take that concrete experience back to their own departments with ideas for possible next steps for reimagining their own programs. Resource materials will also be shared.

Session Outcomes:

  • By the end of this session, participants will be able to:
  • Describe the stages of a curriculum renewal process
  • Explain the challenges of the early stages of curriculum renewal, and identify strategies to counter those challenges
  • Prepare for a curriculum change initiative in their department

3.4 Research on Teaching & Learning: Investigating Student Skills and Perceptions

i. A randomized encouragement study of weekly emails to improve students’ attitudes towards statistics

Nathan Taback, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Statistical Sciences
Alison Gibbs, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Statistical Sciences

Technology has allowed instructors to experiment with different course delivery methods including blended, flipped, and fully online courses. For introductory statistics courses, a number of studies have investigated whether different delivery methods result in different learning outcomes (for example, Gundlach et al, 2015; Touchton, 2015; Peterson, 2016) and if different methods have an effect on student attitudes towards statistics. In the Fall of 2015 and Fall of 2016, our large (1,400+ students and 1,700+ students, in sections of 200 to 400 students) introductory statistics course was taught in both flipped and fully online formats. All sections used the same online materials with a common final exam. Analysis of the fall 2015 data indicated that students’ attitudes towards statistics (as measured by the validated SATS-36 instrument) had decreased by the end of the course, and were significantly lower in the online sections of the course. In Fall 2016, we conducted a randomized encouragement study (West et al, 2008) to assess the effect of different types of weekly emails on students’ attitudes towards statistics. Students were randomized to receive either “interesting” e-mails containing links to interesting applications of statistics relevant to the weekly course material and course information, or “informational” e-mails with course information only. Preliminary results indicate weekly emails may be associated with better attitudes towards statistics, although there is no evidence that adding interesting content resulted in better attitudes towards statistics. This work was funded by University of Toronto, Faculty of Arts and Science Teaching Stream Pedagogical Grants.

Gundlach, E., Richards, K.A.R., Nelson, D. and Levesque-Bristol, C. (2015). A comparison of student attitudes, statistical reasoning, performance, and perceptions for web-augmented traditional, fully online, and flipped sections of a statistical literacy class. Journal of Statistics Education 23(1).

Peterson, D.J. (2016). The Flipped Classroom Improves Student Achievement and Course Satisfaction in a Statistics Course: A Quasi-Experimental Study. Teaching of Psychology 43(1), 10-15.

Touchton, M. (2015). Flipping the Classroom and Student Performance in Advanced Statistics: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment. Journal of Political Science Education 11, 28-44.

West, S.G., Duan, N., Pequegnat, W., Gaist, P., Des Jarlais, D.C., Holtgrave, D., Szapocznik, J., Fishbein, M., Rapkin, B., Clatts, M., and Mullen, P.D. (2008). Alternatives to the Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Public Health 98(8), 1359-1366.

ii. Visible learning and skill acquisition: applying insights from the science of learning to support student mastery of chemical nomenclature

Jeff Graham, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Psychology, UTM
Jennifer Howell, Science Teacher, University of Toronto Schools
Allan Sura, Online Instructional Designer, DeckChair Learning
Rosemary Evans, Principal, University of Toronto Schools

Our research explores the idea that fluent skills in basic chemical nomenclature are necessary for success with more advanced concepts in chemistry. To complement the in-class curriculum we designed a set of 8 online modules to advance students from basic to advanced nomenclature skills. DeckChair Tutor (an innovative eLearning platform that incorporates fluency scores to measure performance and customize training) was used to manage an itinerary of 24 ten-minute tasks. Over 100 students had open access to all tasks and speed and accuracy averages were calculated for each of over 1500 task runs.

In his ground-breaking study “Visible Learning” Hattie ranked 138 influences relevant to achievement gains. The average effect size of all interventions identified was 0.40. Hattie considers this effect size the ‘hinge point’, in order to determine “What works best in education?” In this study, formative practice tests (with feedback after completion) significantly improved students’ success on later tests, and measures of fluency were strong predictors of long-term retention. We describe our analyses motivated by Hattie (2014, 2016) showing very large effect sizes (D = 0.80 to 1.60), some larger than those he reported.

We propose fluency measures to establish and monitor learning goals and success criteria for students, and show evidence that online skills development can significantly facilitate mastery and long-term retention. We plan to expand the work to cover other disciplines which have foundational knowledge and skills required to support more complex, sophisticated applications – common across many subject areas at the secondary and undergraduate levels.

Hattie, J. & Yates, G. (2014) Visible learning and the science of how we learn. New York, Routledge.
Hattie, J.  & McDonough, Gregory M. (2016). Learning strategies: A synthesis and conceptual model, npj, Science of Learning, http://www.nature.com/articles/npjscilearn201613#supplementary-information
Roediger, H. L., & Karpicke, J. D. (2006b). Test enhanced learning: Taking memory tests improves long-term retention. Psychological Science, 17, 249–255.

iii. Investigating first-year undergraduate student workload in engineering

Chirag Variawa, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

Engineers understand stress and strain as deforming forces acting on an object. These forces can change the object’s shape, sometimes irreversibly so. We use the metaphor of stress and strain to connect to, and investigate, the experience of the incoming, first-year engineering student at the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering facing mounting workload concerns. The motivation for this work therefore transcends disciplinary borders to situate on the needs of the student in transition, the accuracy and perception of communicated expectations, and the assessments used to evaluate student performance across first-year engineering.

The research questions are:

– What are the incoming first-year undergrad student expectations of weekly workload?
– What are the first-year undergrad course instructor’s expectations of student weekly workload?
– What is the actual weekly workload for first-year undergraduate engineering students, and is this influenced by difficulty (conceptual, operational), previously seen (review) material, and/or other factors (described both quantitatively and qualitatively)?

Observations suggest that workload almost doubles within the first three weeks of class and assessments (major and minor) have an amplifying effect especially as they can be inadvertently grouped-together on specific dates. Additionally, there appears to be a link between perceived difficulty and hours spent, with that link aligning better as the courses progress. Furthermore, data also suggests that the first-year design/communication course has a large spike in workload midway through the term, much larger than the increases seen in the heavy-weighted assessments in non-design courses. Qualitative responses suggest that students may feel less prepared for such courses, and consequently spend more time on them when compared to non-design courses.

Chambers, E. (1992). Work-load and the quality of student learning. Studies in Higher Education, 17(2), 141–153.
Chen, X. (2013). STEM Attrition: College students’ paths into and out of STEM fields (NCES 2014-001). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.
Kember, D., Ng, S., Tse, H., Wong, E. T. T. and Pomfret, M. (1996) An examination of the interrelationships between workload, study time, learning approaches and academic outcomes. Studies in Higher Education, 21(3), 347–358.
Kyndt, E., Dochy, F., Struyven, K. and Cascallar, E. (2011). The perception of workload and task complexity and its influence on students’ approaches to learning: a study in higher education. European Journal of Psychology and Education, 26: 393–415.
Ramsden, P. (1991). A performance indicatory of teaching quality in higher education: the Course Experience Questionnaire. Studies in Higher Education, 16, 129–150.
Ramsden, P. (2003). Learning to Teach in Higher Education, 2nd ed. London: Routledge Falmer.
Scully, G. and Kerr, R. (2014). Student workload and assessment: Strategies to manage expectations and inform curriculum development. Accounting Education, 23(5), 443-466.

3.5 Lightning Talks: Innovations Across Courses and Curricula

i.  A cursed BME curriculum: Our intentions and results

Dawn Kilkenny, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, IBBME
Mindy Thuna, Head, Engineering & Computer Science Library &Liaison Librarian, Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering

Curriculum mapping is not a new phenomenon. It has been done, including at UofT, in multiple disciplines and departments. In our presentation, we will share our experience exploring methods to strengthen the Biomedical Engineering (BME) Minor curriculum with the added focus of information literacy as one of our key touchpoints. This project, which is in its infancy, has arisen from recognition that students engage in multiple independent research/Capstone experiences within the program. All of these experiences require familiarity with published literature and information resources. However, there may be repetitive or fragmented instruction across the program given that program content is multi-disciplinary and courses exhibit enrolment of students from multiple engineering departments who may have varied experience and familiarity with information literacy. There are two unique features to this project: the first is the creation of a unique mapping partnership between IBBME faculty and an Engineering librarian to ensure that relevant information literacy components are scaled and scaffolded throughout the program. The second key feature is that we are using this Minor program as a case study to investigate the feasibility of extending this process to the larger, more established Engineering Science BMS Major program. This testing ground has proven less straightforward than usual because the BME Minor program represents few (6) courses, but a broad range of faculty instructors not previously associated at a program level. Although this initiative is in the early phases of development, a top-down approach has been employed to assess the required elements of information literacy in high-level 4th year courses (i.e., Capstone). Based on these needs, we will continue to work backwards through the program with instructors to assess gaps in curriculum. Overall project outcomes are to: i) identify information currently delivered throughout the program courses; ii) eliminate unnecessary curriculum repetition ; iii) confirm consistent development of delivered information in multiple years; and iv) strengthen program content by ensuring communication and awareness between relevant instructors. We recognize that multiple players and variables must be considered when examining curriculum components for mapping, and that this investigation need not be at the highest level (i.e., program/major/specialist level) as even small scale investigation can offer valuable insight. Finally, we must also be cognizant of the Engineering Graduate Attributes and the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) threshold concepts moving forward which make this a fascinating but complicated endeavor.

ii. Using the Active Learning Classroom Multimodally

Chester Scoville, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, English & Drama, UTM

Multimodality is increasingly understood as a source of complexity and richness in teaching and learning. This richness is multiplied when students work  in a classroom that is itself multimodal: the Active Learning Classroom (ALC), a new kind of space that combines visual thinking and verbal communication in its design and architecture.

In 2016 I taught a course on comics — themselves a multimodal form — in an Active Learning Classroom at the University of Toronto Mississauga. The students worked in groups of six, each group collaborating at its own multimedia-equipped station, using digital projection, smartpens, and guided discussion techniques to gain insight, understanding, and appreciation of comics in ways that would not have been possible in a traditional lecture course.

This talk will explain the process of teaching comics in an ALC; it will also suggest ways in which the experience of multimodal learning highlights and enhances the experience of reading multimodal texts. Finally, it will suggest ways for all educators to use active learning to enhance students’ experience in encountering texts.

iii. The Virtual Mystery: Online hybridized problem-based learning in large courses

Sherry Fukuzawa, Sessional Instructor, Department of Anthroplogy, UTM
Heather Miller, Vice-Dean Teaching and Learning, UTM and Associate Professor, Anthropology UTM
Trevor Orchard, Laboratory Technician, Anthropology UTM
Michael deBraga, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre
Kenneth Berry, Instructional Technology Support Specialist, UTM Library
Simone Laughton, Coordinator, Library Instructional Technology Services, Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre

Problem-based learning (PBL) uses small group problem solving in a practical setting to develop critical thinking and self-directed learning (Loyens et al., 2015).   Students use available resources to brainstorm novel problems while discussing learning outcomes and testing hypotheses (Bate et al., 2014).  The virtual mystery is a series of online hybridized PBL cases that utilize the learning management engine’s self-release functionality (currently blackboard discussion board) to disseminate weekly photos and clues to groups of 5-10 students.  Group members collaborate using course resources to apply theoretical learning to practical cases.  The technology allows one facilitator to monitor several cases simultaneously.  The objective of the virtual mystery is to use the principles of PBL to give students in large courses a collaborative small group, active learning experience in a cost effective manner.  It has been successfully implemented since 2010 in a large introductory anthropology course (N=800 students) using the UTM anthropology specimen collection.  Student evaluations are very positive and it was successfully tested against a passive learning option in 2014 (Fukuzawa & Boyd, 2016). The virtual mystery provides an online model for hybridized PBL across disciplines.  It is currently being expanded (with LEAF support) to increase cases and assessment value within the anthropology department, and in the biology department where virtual mysteries will be created using the UTM paleontology collection. This presentation will expose participants to the potential to apply PBL principles in their own courses, using the virtual mystery model, as a cost effective way to achieve desired learning outcomes.

Bate, E., Hommes J., Duvivier R., & Taylor D., (2014). Problem-based learning (PBL): Getting the most of your students – Their roles and responsibilities: AMEE Guide No. 84. Medical Teacher, 36, 1-12.
Fukuzawa, S., & Boyd, C. (2016). Student engagement in a large classroom: Using technology to generate a hybridized problem-based learning experience in a large first year undergraduate class. Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 7(1): 1-14.
Gibbings, P., Lidstone, J., & Christine, B. (2015). Students’ experience of problem-based learning in virtual space. Higher Education Research & Development, 34(1), 74-88.
Loyens, S. M., Jones, S.H., Mikkers, J., & van Gog, T. (2015). Problem-based learning as a facilitator of conceptual change.  Learning and Instruction, 38, 34-42.

3.6 Symposium-You: Training Health Professionals

i. Competency-based education: Developments, Opportunities and Challenges

Charlotte Lombardo, Lecturer and Program Director, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Paul Bozek, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Susan Bondy, Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Nancy Baxter, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dalla Lana School of Public Health

In recent years education and practice in Public Health have increasingly been guided by new and evolving competency frameworks, such as the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Core Competencies for Public Health in Canada and the American Council on Education for Public Health Foundational Competencies. The Dalla Lana School of Public Health has embarked on a series of initiatives to identify, assess and align our curriculum with relevant competencies, both cross-cutting and discipline-specific. In this session we will describe our curriculum renewal efforts and experiences, and discuss the opportunities and challenges presented by competency-focused education.

Discussion Points:

  1. When and why should we explore competency-focused educational design and/or curriculum renewal?
  2. In what ways can competency frameworks help to promote excellence in both education and practice?
  3. What are the challenges and potentially limiting factors of taking a competency-based approach?
  4. How can we transcend any limitations and ensure competency frameworks work to promote excellence and innovation.

ii. Creating a “Lab” in the Classroom When Training Graduate Health Professionals

Ellen Katz, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
Toula Kourgiantakis, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work

In training health professionals, academic theory and clinical practice are separated:  the classroom transmits theoretical knowledge and the placement conveys practical knowledge of competent clinical practice. The assumption in separating training in theory and clinical practice is that both academics and field educators can participate equally in transmitting theoretical and applied practice knowledge.  However, practitioners’ direct practice experience is not necessarily accompanied by rich theoretical grounding or competent clinical practice. The potential for greater depth of instruction in direct practice skills offered within an academic setting relates to the complexity of theoretical understanding, both alone and as informed by research, possessed by faculty members steeped in both theoretical knowledge and clinical experience that may not be had by clinical instructors. While clinical instructors may offer exposure to direct patient practice, their comprehension of theory may lack depth and they may struggle to convey to students the links between theory and practice, leaving students with suboptimal clinical training (Boisen & Syers, 2004; Gentle-Genitty, Chen, Karikari, & and Barnett, 2014).

The driving question for Symposium-You participants is:  How can students be exposed to more experiential learning of direct practice skills within the academic classroom?  Participants will discuss (i) the challenges of leaving the teaching of practice knowledge to professionals in the field, (ii) ways to better integrate the academic classroom with community-based professional training, (iii) the feasibility of academics teaching practice courses in the community and/or the use of simulation to provide students in the health professions with more effective clinical training.

Boisen, L., and Syers, M. (2004).  The integrative case analysis model for linking theory and practice, Journal of Social Work Education, 40, 2, 205-217
Gentle-Genitty, G., Chen, H., Karikari, I., Barnett, C. (2014).  Social work theory and application to practice:  the students’ perspective, Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 14, 1, 36-47

3.7 Lightning Talks: Powerful Assignments II –  Effective Design for Effective Learning

i. Designing social science research projects so as to overcome confirming bias

Beth Fischer, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Woodsworth College

In the Social Sciences it is commonplace to ask students to write research papers that begin with a thesis statement. The student poses a thesis, conducts research, and then provides evidence to support the initial argument. Such assignments can undermine deep learning, as well as render students ill-equipped to engage meaningfully in political life.

Psychological research has demonstrated that humans have a subconscious tendency to look for and pay attention to information that supports our assumptions. We also avoid, ignore, or discount information that challenges our beliefs. Psychologists call this the “confirming bias” (Nickerson, 1998; Wolfe & Britt, 2008). The confirming bias causes us to cling to incorrect assumptions and to resist learning.

Research projects which require students to begin with a thesis statement unwittingly amplify the confirming bias. Students have incentives to seek out information that supports their initial argument and to avoid, ignore, or discount information that challenges it. Thus, such assignments encourage our tendency to cling to incorrect assumptions.

This practice has implications beyond the classroom. Students who have been trained to immerse themselves in like-minded views can become citizens who are disinclined to listen to or value the beliefs of others. This leads to political polarization.

Educators can design assignments to overcome confirming bias. For example, students can be asked to begin their project with an open-ended question and to provide two (or more) different answers to the query. Such a format obligates students to conduct wide-ranging research and thus, to consider a variety of viewpoints. Such assignments not only promote deep learning, they build skills that are essential to meaningful political discourse.

At the end of this session participants will:
1. Be familiar with the “confirming bias”
2. Understand how traditional research projects in the Social Sciences and Humanities can unwittingly amplify the effects of the confirming bias
3. Learn strategies for developing assessments that overcome confirming bias

Nickerson, R. S. (1998). Confirming bias: a ubiquitous bias in many guises. Review of General Psychology   2:2, 175-220.
Wolfe C. R., Britt M. A. (2008). The locus of the myside bias in written argumentation. Thinking & Reasoning, 14, 1–27.

ii. Learning science: modeling biology

Karen Williams, Sessional Lecturer, Biology, UTM
Alvin Singh, Teaching Assistant, Biology, UTM
Hiwote Belay, Teaching Assistant, Biology, UTM

Designing a course to enrich tutorials and lecture material in genetics was our objective. I will explain how we modified an existing course to enliven the material by including a simple modelling exercise. Specifically, we used exercises with modelling clay for small groups within a genetic tutorial. Each of the groups contributed to answering a tutorial-wide question. We expected the experience of modelling the movements of chromosomes would empower students to answer the tutorial question and thereby communicate their understanding of genetics. One question on the exam similar to the tutorial question was used in each year. As a class, if students did not experience any increased understanding of genetics their scores (number correct) should be the same as the previous year in which the tutorial consisted of more traditional instruction. We found a significant change in responses to one informative exam question (chi-square 6.59, df=1, p=0.01) suggesting that the year with the active learning performed better than the year with the more traditional instruction. I will discuss how we designed the course to include the modelling exercises and will demonstrate how collaboration facilitated teaching and learning genetics.

iii. Modular assignments following a modular lecture format

Duncan Jones, Sessional Lecturer, Human Biology Program
Brittany Bruno, Student

The structure as well as the advantages (and disadvantages) of employing a modular assignment design will be presented along with guidelines as how this methodology could be adopted and effectively applied in any course.

The insights come from a nifty individual assignment in HMB301 Biotechnology: the business of science and the science of business. A major student assignment(35%) was broken into seven modules. Each of these seven sub-assignments were due a week after the corresponding background material was presented and discussed in the lecture.

Completing the assignment (and lecturing) in this modular manner was well received by the students. It led to much higher quality submissions than in previous years, demonstrating improved instructional outcomes. This was attributed to the closer linkage between the teaching and the applied and experiential learning demanded of the assignment, as well as the more uniform work distribution.

3.8 Teaching Holistic Competence in Professional Programs Using Simulation-Based Learning

Toula Kourgiantakis, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
Marion Bogo, Professor, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
Ellen Katz, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
Karen Sewell, Doctoral student, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work

Professional programs face challenges of educating and training future practitioners to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes to be able to perform competently and ethically in one’s profession (Bogo et al., 2011; Shulman, 2005).  In recent years, many programs have adopted a competency-based framework focusing on student learning and outcomes (Falender & Shafranske, 2007).  There has been a recent call for explicit demonstration of competencies, rather than having an implicit assumption that competencies are attained simply by program completion (Miller et al., 2010). Research has shown that students develop holistic competence through deliberate practice which involves repetitive cycles of practice, receiving feedback, and practising the identified skills until reaching a level of competence (Chow et al., 2015; Ericsson, 2008). Simulation-based learning is an effective method for teaching holistic competence and engaging in deliberate practice.  This teaching and learning method is congruent with adult learning principles (Knowles, 1968) and Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning theory.  It Simulations replicate real practice situations and are distinguished from role plays because simulations appear authentic for students (Gaba, 2007).  Experiential learning theory has shown that experience plays a central role in the learning process by transforming knowledge and this is applicable for teaching in all programs of study (Kolb et al., 2000).

This interactive workshop will discuss how simulation is a suitable teaching method for a competency-based framework. Participants will learn how to create a conceptual framework to guide the development of effective simulations and this includes identifying competencies, developing vignettes, giving students effective feedback, and using reflective methods. In small groups, participants will identify ways they can adapt simulation in their own programs.

Objective: Identify ways simulation can be used to teach generic and advanced competencies across different programs.

Bogo, M., Regehr, C., Logie, C., Katz, E., Mylopoulos, M., & Regehr, G. (2011b). Adapting objective structured clinical examinations to assess social work students’ performance and reflections. Journal of Social Work Education, 47(1), 5-18.
Chow, D. L., Miller, S. D., Seidel, J. A., Kane, R. T., Thornton, J. A., & Andrews, W. P. (2015). The role of deliberate practice in the development of highly effective psychotherapists.  Psychotherapy, 52(3), 337-345.
Ericsson, K.A. (2008). Deliberate practice and acquisition of expert performance: A generaloverview. Academic Emergency Medicine, 15(11), 988-994.
Falender, C. A., & Shafranske, E. P. (2007). Competence in competency-based supervision practice: Construct and application. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38(3), 232–240. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.38.3.232.
Gaba, D. M. (2007). The future vision of simulation in healthcare. Simulation in Healthcare, 2(2), 126-135.
Knowles, M. S. (1968). Andragogy, not pedagogy. Adult Leadership, 16(10), 350-352, 386.
Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as a source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Miller, J. K., Todahl, J. L., & Platt, J. J. (2010). The core competency movement in marriage and family therapy: Key considerations from other disciplines. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 36(1), 59-70.
Shulman, L. S. (2005). Signature pedagogies in the professions. Daedalus, 134, no. 3, 52-59.

Closing remarks by Cheryl Regehr, Provost
4:30pm – 5:30pm

If you have any questions about the Teaching & Learning Symposium agenda, please contact Erin Macnab, CTSI Programs Coordinator at erin.macnab@utoronto.ca.

Co-hosted by the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation and the Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking