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Teaching for Success Panel - Beyond 2021

The pandemic presented unexpected challenges and opportunities in teaching. This historic period found many educators developing online teaching skills and thinking about pedagogy differently. As we transition into a new era of education, instructors are pondering how this online-only experience can contribute to a strategy for enhancing teaching and learning in the post-pandemic world.

In the first three parts of this series on education beyond the pandemic, we look at:

  1. Successful online learning
  2. Successful in-person learning
  3. Successful hybrid learning

In this final installment of our four-part series on transitioning beyond the pandemic, our panelists discuss what they experienced in the pandemic and what it means for enhanced education during this upcoming fall and beyond.

Meet the panelists

  • Host: James Colliander, founder of Crowdmark and professor of mathematics at University of British Columbia
  • Panelist: Fiona Dunbar, mathematics lecturer at University of Waterloo
  • Panelist: Jana Arcibald, instructor III in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at University of Lethbridge
  • Panelist: Sean Fitzpatrick, instructor III in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at University of Lethbridge

Panel discussion highlights

James: Did you get to know your students differently during the pandemic, compared to previous academic years? Jana: Only having the option for remote education led to us all seeing each other’s lives outside of the classroom. Families, children, and obstacles to learning were much more apparent. It became easier to understand why a student may not be able to complete an assignment the day it is assigned. Students were also able to see instructors as people outside of teacher-student interactions. Seeing each other from a personal perspective allowed us all to gain more empathy.

James: How do real-world examples and models align with student learning outcomes?
Fiona: The pandemic had an interesting effect on student performance and learning outcomes. Being able to use a shared experience to illuminate a concept was invaluable. Using real-world examples is a great learning tool to spur ​​creativity and innovation in teaching and learning.

James: How do you assess authentic learning and engagement?
Fiona: In a face-to-face class, I can see student eyes on me or hands raised. In the virtual classroom, I use technology tools for online teaching that allow students to interact with the asynchronous material I provide. These tools show analytics on how many times videos are viewed and how long videos are viewed. Students are also able to use emoticon reactions at any point to tell me what they think of the content at any time in the video.

It was difficult, in some ways, to move from paper-based assessment to assessing students online. I tried a lot of things including group assessment. However, I received some pushback from students who did not have time to meet as a group. Ultimately, I chose not to give a final exam, but I administered term tests. My assessment focus was on mini-assignments and lower weight assessments.

James: How do you differentiate between grades and authentic assessment in higher education?
Sean: I am no longer convinced that real-time proctoring is the gold standard. I recently had a smaller class of 50 students. I allowed students in this class the opportunity to revise and resubmit assessments. While some students just resubmitted their work, I found that many students used office hours to discuss assignments and concepts. During these office hours, we discussed feedback and students ultimately showed a greater understanding of concepts that had previously alluded them. The students who participated in this feedback cycle said that this approach helped them understand that tests can be a means of learning.

Concluding thoughts

When asked what our panelists would do with unlimited resources, they identified a desire to give more and better feedback to students. With an “army of TAs,” panelists would be able to give immediate and authentic feedback to every student. As they observed, both teaching and learning are enhanced by descriptive feedback.

Crowdmark helps. With Crowdmark, instructors are able to create comment libraries for TAs to easily provide rich feedback.

As educators continue to transition beyond the pandemic, Crowdmark is here to support assessment and grading needs so educators can focus on teaching.

Contact Crowdmark today to discuss your individual needs and learn how we can help you grade 3x faster than traditional workflows while leaving rich feedback for your students.