OND 2015 Session Descriptions

OND 2015 Session Descriptions

Session Descriptions

100s | 200s | 300s | 400s

Session 100s: 10:30 - 11:30 am

Links to session descriptions: 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106a, 106b, 107a, 107b

Session 101 - PANEL - Working through the lens of integrity

Session Authors:
Amanda McKenzie, Executive Assistant to Associate Provost, Resources; Manager, Office of Academic Integrity
Barb Moffatt, Professor, Biology and Associate Dean of Science, Student Affairs
Rudy Peariso, Lead Online Learning Consultant, Centre for Extended Learning
Christine Zaza, Faculty Liaison: Applied Health Sciences, Centre for Teaching Excellence

Panelists and Facilitators:
Amanda McKenzie, Executive Assistant to Associate Provost, Resources; Manager, Office of Academic Integrity
Barb Moffatt, Professor, Biology and Associate Dean of Science, Student Affairs
Bill Chesney, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies, Arts
Mario Coniglio, Associate Vice-President, Academic
Rebecca Little, Academic Affairs Commissioner, Federation of Students
Rudy Peariso, Lead Online Learning Consultant, Centre for Extended Learning

Despite the high prevalence of academic dishonesty in post-secondary settings (1,2), academic integrity is often thought of as the elephant in the room.  As a result, faculty, students, and staff have several questions about the process of dealing with academic offences, and the consequences of these offences.  An important step in making academic integrity visible on campus is having open conversations about what integrity means and how misconduct is addressed.  This panel will increase the visibility of academic integrity by addressing questions such as:

  • What does it mean to ‘act with integrity’?  What types of activities are considered misconduct?
  • What is the difference between a formal and an informal resolution of a misconduct allegation?
  • What is the instructor’s responsibility in each case?
  • What university records are maintained for academic offences?
  • What are the implications of a disciplinary penalty for a student (i.e., how does this affect a student’s academic future)? 
  • What supports are available for instructors who are involved in an academic offence investigation of one of their students?
  • What supports are there for students who are going through an academic offence inquiry?
  • How can we teach the value of working with integrity in a positive way (i.e., rather than focusing our messaging on the negative consequences of misconduct)? 

This multidisciplinary panel will include the Associate Vice-President, Academic, several Associate Deans, and representatives from the Academic Integrity Office as well as the Federation of Students.   Questions and discussion from the audience will be welcome.


1) Kidwell, L.A. & Kent, J. (2008). Integrity at a distance: A study of academic misconduct among university students on and off campus.  Accounting Education: An International Journal, 17(S3-S16).

2) Sendag, S. et al. (2012).  Surveying the extent of involvement in online academic dishonesty (e-dishonesty) related practices among university students and the rationale students provide: One university’s experience.  Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 849-860.

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Session 102 - WORKSHOP - Active learning in large classes: Behind the scenes

Session Slides (PDF)

Session Handouts (DOC)

Veronica Brown, Instructional Developer, Curriculum and Programming, Centre for Teaching Excellence

To create and implement active learning in our large classes, thoughtful planning is essential. Large classes are not just about the number of students in the course. Design for large classes might also apply to courses with multiple sections and instructors or courses that have grown significantly in enrollment during the past few years. Building on ideas explored at sessions of Waterloo’s Really Large Classes learning community, we will consider why active learning is valuable in large classes and how it can be accomplished in large classes. The focus of the workshop is to apply a heuristic framework to plan an activity in a large class. Elements of the heuristic are: alignment (relating the activity to course outcomes); context (factors that influence the activity’s design); roles (of students, instructors, and support staff, including TAs); and support (resources needed and their availability). Through small group discussion, we will apply the heuristic to a Waterloo case to critically consider various planning elements that impact the design of active learning.

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Session 103 - PANEL - Overcoming failure: Cultivating risk-taking behaviour in the classroom

Session Authors:
Erin Joakim, Adjunct Lecturer and Post-Doctoral Fellow, Geography and Environmental Management
Nadine Furtado, Assistant Clinical Professor, Optometry & Vision Science
Chao Yang, English Language Teaching Associate, Writing Centre, Student Success Office
Panelists and Facilitators:
Marcel Pinheiro, Lecturer, Biology 
Mary Louise McAllister, Associate Professor, Environment and Resource Studies and Teaching Fellow, Environment
Troy Glover, Professor, Recreation and Leisure Studies 
Patricia Hrynchak, Clinical Professor, Optometry & Vision Science 
Nadine Furtado, Assistant Clinical Professor, Optometry & Vision Science
Erin Joakim, Adjunct Lecturer and Post-Doctoral Fellow, Geography and Environmental Management 
Chao Yang, English Language Teaching Associate, Writing Centre, Student Success Office
Encouraging risk-taking behavior and reducing fear of failure has been recommended as a deeper approach to facilitating learning in university classrooms (Svinicki, 1989/1990; Brophy, 2004). Allowing students the space and time to take risks may facilitate learning ownership (Martin & Marsh, 2003; Karsten & DiCicco-Bloom, 2014). While this approach has been advocated in the literature, strategies to facilitate a culture of risk-taking in the university classroom are less clear.

The panel session will offer a case study approach to explore how instructors have cultivated a culture of risk-taking in their classrooms at the University of Waterloo. The panel will include practical examples used by Faculty members from four different disciplines, including:

  • Patricia Hrynchak, Clinical Professor at the School of Optometry & Vision Science, will discuss the use of think/write-pair-share strategies to encourage risk-avoidant students and encourage confidence in peer discussions.
  • Troy Glover, Professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, will outline how he endeavors to create a low stakes environment by establishing a climate of improvement, not judgement.
  • Marcel Pinheiro, Lecturer in the Department of Biology, will discuss the use of a series of writing assignments to have students reflect on their own learning.
  • Mary-Louise McAllister, Associate Professor and Faculty of Environment Teaching Fellow, will explore how to provide student’s opportunities to develop their own agency and influence local decision-making processes. 

Each panelist will have 5-10 minutes for presentation of their risk-taking strategies in the classroom, followed by an interactive discussion guided by key questions developed by the panel organizers. During this period, the audience will be able to ask questions and share examples of encouraging risk-taking in the classroom.

The panel has the following objectives:

  • Offer examples of risk-taking strategies
  • Highlight the results of the strategies on student learning
  • Learn how to adapt strategies in a variety of teaching contexts


Brophy, J. (2004). Motivating Students to Learn (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Martin, A.J. & Marsh, H.W. (2003). Fear of failure: friend or foe? Australian Psychologist, 38(1), 31-38.

Karsten, K. & DiCicco-Bloom, B. (2014). Acknowledging the academic rigor of associate degree nursing education: A grounded theory study of overcoming failure. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 9(4), 153-163.

Svinicki, M. (1989/1990). If learning involves risk-taking, teaching involves trust-building. Essays on Teaching Excellence: Toward the Best in the Academy, 1(2), 1-4.

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Session 104 - WORKSHOP - Effective use of slideware to help students create mental models 

Session Slides (PDF)

Session Handout (PDF)

Kristie Dukewich, Lecturer, Psychology, University of Toronto

Few instructors have managed to avoid the onslaught of slideware in the classroom. At the university level, the use of slideware like Powerpoint and Keynote is virtually ubiquitous, and tech savvy students that dominate the undergraduate population have come to expect it. But instructors often used slideware as a method to project digital cues cards for their audience to read-along with, rather than as a valuable and innovative tool that can facilitate teaching and learning. A basic skill that students are acquiring in undergrad is the ability to take novel information and build mental models, or schemas, about how concepts in a discipline are related to one another, and to use those models to construct more complex representations that allow for the synthesis of new ideas. Slideware’s most valuable asset is that it provides an avenue for instructors to help students develop schemas, and in that way can be used to as a model to help students develop their own schemas when they encounter new information. The purpose of this session is to inform participants of some of the most important research findings related to slideware design. The session will review models of cognitive architecture (c.f. Baddeley & Hitch, 1974) that will help to situate Cognitive Load Theory (Sweller, 1994) – a theory for effective instructional design. Participants will see how this theory informs the more applied Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (CTML; Mayer & Moreno, 2003), and will review evidence in support of the specific design principles that emerge from CTML. Using examples of these design principles, and providing opportunity to model their application, participants will leave with practical ideas for how to implement these principles and exploit cognitive learning theories in order to maximize the teaching and learning potential of their lecture slides.


Atkinson, R.C.; Shiffrin, R.M. (1968). "Chapter: Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes". In Spence, K.W.; Spence, J.T. The psychology of learning and motivation (Volume 2). New York: Academic Press. pp. 89–195. 

Baddeley, A. D. & Hitch, G. (1974). Working memory. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 8, 47-89.

Fenesi, B. & Kim, J. (2014). Learner misperceive the benefits of redundant text in multimedia learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1-7. 

Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43-52.

Sweller, J. (1994). Cognitive load theory, learning difficulty, and instructional design. Learning and Instruction, 4(4), 295-312.

Tangen, J. M., Constable, M. D., Durrant, E., Teeter, C., Beston, B. R., & Kim, J. (2011). The role of interest and images in slideware presentations. Computers & Education, 56(3), 865-872.

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Session 105 - PANEL - Helping students to get the most out of the international learning experiences

Session Slides 1 (PDF)

Session Slides 2 (PDF)

Session Handouts (PDF)

Session Authors and Panelists:
Svitlana Taraban-Gordon, Senior Instructional Developer, CUT and Internationalization, Centre for Teaching Excellence
Grit Liebscher, Associate Professor and Chair, Germanic & Slavic Studies
Emma Betz, Assistant Professor, Germanic & Slavic Studies
Julie Kate Seirlis, Assistant Professor, International Development, St. Paul’s University College, and School of Environment, Enterprise and Development
Dan McRoberts, Graduate Student, Geography and Environmental Management
As part of the internationalization strategic plan, University of Waterloo aspires to facilitate student access to international experiential learning opportunities, increasing participation in international activity to 30% of the annual graduating class. Already a large number of Waterloo students engage in international/global learning by participating in various types of academic mobility programs (e.g. study abroad, work abroad, field courses and international service-learning). From a pedagogical perspective, the growth in international learning opportunities poses a number of challenging and exciting questions about the various kinds of learning that take place when students go abroad and ways in which we can support this type of learning.

This panel will highlight important teaching and learning issues that need to be considered when designing and facilitating international learning experience.  To frame our discussion, we will begin by discussing key insights from the current scholarship on best practices for supporting international learning. We will then draw on our experiences with various international courses and programs to address the following questions:

1. What kinds of international experiences are perceived by students as transformative in the study abroad context? How do students think and talk about their transformative experiences abroad? How do we use this knowledge to understand students' needs before, during, and after study abroad?

2. How do we prepare students for and supervise them during placement overseas as apprentices in the difficult domain of international development?  What kinds of curricular designs and modes of teaching best prepare students for this type of learning?

3. What kinds of educational interventions help to prepare students for the international service-learning programs? How do we assess student learning in this context? What types of re-entry programs help students to make sense of their experience abroad and deepen their learning?


Vande Berg, M., Paige, R. M., & Lou, K. H. (Eds.) (2012). Student learning abroad: what our students are learning, what they're not, and what we can do about it. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

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Session 106a - PRESENTATION - Making teaching & learning explicit through instructional design

Session Slides (PDF)

Aldo Caputo, Associate Director, Online Learning, Centre for Extended Learning
Dina Meunier, Online Learning Consultant, Centre for Extended Learning
Melanie Misanchuk, Online Learning Consultant, Centre for Extended Learning

Following an instructional design approach to prepare a course will, by definition, externalize the instructor's thinking with respect to the instructional approach and the course alignment.

Online Learning Courses at the University of Waterloo developed in conjunction with the Centre for Extended Learning are prepared in advance of their offering with the aid of an Online Learning Consultant (instructional designer) who assists course authors with, among other things, a learner analysis, determining gaps in incoming students’ knowledge, defining learning outcomes and expectations of the students, scripting and creating specific course content, and designing assessments and activities that are tied to the learning outcomes. All of these activities make explicit the instructor's goals and expectations around the learning experience, which is especially important in situations when incidental communication opportunities are diminished (e.g., when there is little to no face-to-face contact).

In this session, we will discuss the instructional design process (Ellis & Light, 2006; Fink, 2003; Garrison et al., 1999) and demonstrate ways this process manifests itself in online courses, including: 

  • clear course outcomes and unit outcomes
  • explicit connections and alignment between content, activities and assessment
  • unique assessment strategies
  • mechanisms for clear feedback

While the process and examples will be drawn from online courses, the strategies will be relevant and adaptable to all course development and delivery situations. You will emerge with some instructional design strategies you can use to further align your expectations with those of the students, model the work you do in your own discipline, and explain competencies with those who are expected to become competent.


Ellis, D. & Light, T. (2006) The Course Design Model from Teaching Excellence Academy. University of Waterloo. 

Fink, L.D., (2003). A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning. 

Garrison, D.R., et.al. (1999). Critical Inquiry in a Text-Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education.  The Internet and Higher Education, Vol 2, Issue 2-3, 87-105.

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Session 106b - PRESENTATION - Making learning explicit using a web-based Socratic questioning tool

Session Handouts (PDF)

Melanie Misanchuk, Online Learning Consultant, Centre for Extended Learning
Arshi Shaikh, Assistant Professor, Social Development Studies, Renison University College

SocWk 301, Understanding Diversity in Canada, is a course offered primarily to students interested in applying for the Bachelor of Social Work program. The current instructor, Arshi Shaikh, employs a Socratic questioning model in her face-to-face classroom, encouraging a lot of discussion among students, but above all, requiring students to put forth their ideas before she gives them "the answers." Whereas the online medium has a number of ways to deliver course content, none of them are appropriate for situations where we want the student to generate ideas first.

Based on our dedication to emulate how Arshi teaches in the classroom, CEL developed the "Socratic questioning/student-generated content tool" (SQ/SGCT) which provides students with a prompt question, allowing them to jot down their ideas on the topic then click “submit” to simultaneously save their notes and reveal the rest of the page of course content.

Students are not required to input their ideas; simply clicking "submit" will reveal the material. However, we make it clear from the beginning that forming these ideas on their own---and keeping track of them, which the tool automatically does---will help them with the course assignments.

This presentation will demo the tool, as well as describe the rationale for making explicit the link between using the SQ/SGCT and course assessments. We will discuss other applications for this tool and this approach in various disciplines.

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Session 107a - PRESENTATION - Making the hidden visible: The hidden curriculum in business cases

Rosemary McGowan, Associate Professor, Business & Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University
Colleen Sharen, Associate Professor, Social Science, Management & Organizational Studies, Brescia University College, Western University

Pedagogical choices influence student learning outcomes. In selecting course materials faculty members often make decisions based on factors including familiarity with the text, availability of instructional materials, cost to the students, and the reputation of texts as being the “gold standard” in the discipline. 

Faculty members are also often engaged in the development of pedagogical materials. Case writers, for instance, develop case studies that may consider a range of individual, organizational, and/or societal issues. The development of these instructional materials often follows a fairly standard template structured around problem statement, organizational and/or industry issues, and management decision faced.

What are the potential educational consequences of current pedagogical selection and development practices?  An emerging concern relates to the unintended learning outcomes of the “hidden curriculum,” outcomes which become evident when instructors explore pedagogical choices beyond the level of topics, theories, and models (Liang & Wang, 2004; Margolis, Soldatenko, Acker, & Gair, 2001). In other words, what are we not attending to and how does that shape, reinforce, or challenge student perceptions of leadership, management, employee archetypes, and decision making?

Exploring the characterizations, presence, and absence of individuals in organizational roles evident in our instructional materials has the potential to surface assumptions (e.g., gender, race, sexual orientation) both about “who” holds positions of authority, and the more general assumptions about the stereotypical characteristics of leaders, managers, and/or employees, and decision making.  While simple notions of presence and absence are fairly easy to enumerate in our instructional materials, a finer grained analysis affords an opportunity to “unhide” the systemic, taken-for-granted assumptions and expectations about people, their roles, and behaviours within organizations.  Examining some of our own work as well as samples of published work, we identify strategies for revealing the hidden curriculum to avoid unconscious re(production) of normative understandings.


Liang, N., & Wang, J. (2004). Implicit mental models in teaching cases: An empirical study of popular MBA cases in the United States and China. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 3(4), 397–413. doi:10.5465/AMLE.2004.15112545

Margolis, E., Soldatenko, M., Acker, S., & Gair, M. (2001). Peekaboo: Hiding and outing the curriculum. In E. Margolis (Ed.), The hidden curriculum in higher education. New York: Routledge

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Session 107b - PRESENTATION - Writing in the discipline of ME 100

Andrew Trivett, Lecturer and Engineering Clinic Director, Mechanical Engineering
Judi Jewinski, Special Advisor to the Vice-President, Provost’s Office

Michael Collins, Associate Professor, Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering
Clare Bermingham, Manager, Writing Centre, Student Success Office

This presentation discusses the extensive re-design of ME100, the first-year mechanical engineering course, to integrate communication through practice and professionalization. Through online forums and assignments that were linked to students’ hands-on experience,” writing in the course facilitated peer engagement, professional team-based communication, and the deep learning of key mechanical concepts. Our discussion draws on George Kuh’s work on high-impact practices and David Russell’s review of writing in the disciplines to discuss the course design and its impact on students’ perceptions and performance. Topics include collaboration with writing specialists and the creation, layering and assessment of assignments and rubrics.

ME100 emphasized teamwork and regular written communication. Typically in such courses, the major assignment requires students to develop designs in response to an authentic “Request for Proposal.”  In ME100, students developed concepts in 5-person teams with regular feedback from Teaching Assistants. Weekly discussion and debate encouraged them to improve ideas in a collaborative, professional environment. Designs which began as unrealistic, because of lack of experience or practice, gradually gained sophistication as students learned to defend their ideas in discussions with their peers.

Students were also learning to understand the nuts and bolts of hardware through the paradigm of a “Repair Café,” where they regularly dismantled, checked, and rebuilt a variety of mechanical devices.  Each activity required students to report their observations to team members in writing, explaining what these might contribute to their evolving design concepts.

By linking the course to professional practices, students’ motives for writing were aligned with course and faculty objectives (Russell 272). As a result, student writing improved significantly over the term and final reports were polished professional pieces demonstrating a strong grasp of theoretical concepts. Interestingly, although writing represented 60% of the final grade, students did not consider ME100 a writing-intensive course.


Kuh, George D. High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter. Washington, DC: AAC&U, 2008.

Russell, David R. “Where do the naturalistic studies of WAC/WID point? A research review.” WAC for the new millennium: Strategies for continuing writing-across-the-curriculum programs. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2001. 259–98.

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Session 200s: 11:35 - 12:00

Link to session descriptions: 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206

Session 201 - PRESENTATION - Are our strategies for promoting student motivation sufficient?

Session Slides (PDF)

Donna Ellis, Director, Centre for Teaching Excellence
Gordon Stubley, Professor, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering and Associate Dean, Teaching, Faculty of Engineering

While making learning visible for faculty and students is critical, value also stems from making visible the necessary conditions for learning. Students’ motivation is one such condition given its reciprocal relationship with learning [1]. From her review of the literature on student motivation, Svinicki [2] proposed an amalgamated two-component model for student motivation in higher education based primarily on the expectancy-value model. This model for motivation has been connected to educational psychology in the work of Eccles and Wigfield [3] and further developed.  In this very preliminary study, we ask the question “To what degree do university instructors promote both the expectancy of success in learning and the value of learning in designing and implementing their course activities?”

After presenting a working definition of motivation, the first portion of the session will be used to quickly poll the participants on the strategies they presently use to promote student motivation in their courses. This will be followed by a review of the expectancy-value model of student motivation that will include identifying teaching/learning strategies that align with the theory. The strategies suggested by the participants will be categorized according to the theory, and the results of this categorization exercise will be compared to findings from a workshop on student motivation held in October 2014 for 16 engineering instructors. In this earlier exercise, it was noted that the engineering instructors suggested strategies to support only one type of motivation. The presentation will conclude with a discussion on future research and practice possibilities that follow from the initial tentative findings. Outcomes for session participants include being able to identify and plan for instructional strategies that will create a motivating learning environment for students.


[1] Ambrose, S.A., Bridges, M.W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M.C., & Norman, M.K., 2010, How Learning Works: Seven Research-based Principles For Smart Teaching, Jossey-Bass Publishing, San Francisco, CA.

[2] Svinicki, M.D., 2004, Learning and Motivation in the Postsecondary Classroom, Jossey-Bass Publishing, San Francisco, CA.

[3] Eccles, J.S. and Wigfield, A., 2002, Motivational Beliefs, Values, and Goals, Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 53, pp. 109-32.

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Session 202 - PRESENTATION - Group projects: Should participation be a student decision?

Carolyn MacGregor, Associate Chair Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor, Systems Design Engineering

McInerney & Fink (2003) found that the inclusion of term projects significantly improved final examination performance when compared to years when projects were not offered. In such cases, the instructor makes the decision to include group assignments for the entire class. What happens when students are allowed to decide to participate or not in group projects, and how might such decisions affect the student’s skill development as assessed through midterm and final examinations? This talk presents the results of a naturalistic study of student decisions and outcomes in a course taught to a class of first year students in Spring 2012.  A set of circumstances arose early in the term which warranted allowing students to actively opt out of group project work. Of the 71 first year (1B) students required to take the course, 17 students opted out of the group projects. All students were provided with the same course materials and instructions for preparing for the midterm and final examinations.  The (Group) Project students were given a set of “hands-on” group activities relating to the course learning objectives, and all groups gave two presentations to the class. Statistical analyses carried out on course data after final grades had been posted uncovered some telling differences between the Project and No-Project students.  Project students performed better on the course midterm (p


McInerney, M.J., and Fink, L.D.  (2003) Team-Based Learning Enhances Long-Term Retention and Thinking in an Undergraduate Microbial Physiology Course.  Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education. 2003 (4) pp. 3-12.

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Session 203 - PRESENTATION - What have Pharmacy students learned? Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) for measurement of skill application in real-time

Session Slides (PDF)

Eric Schneider, Associate Professor and Associate Director, Curriculum and Assessment, Pharmacy
Elaine Lillie, Director, Interprofessional Education Program and Curriculum Development, Pharmacy

Cynthia Richard, Clinical Lecturer, Pharmacy

Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCEs) are widely used in healthcare training programs to test students’ critical thinking, clinical skills, and communication abilities in real-time.  The exams typically use a combination of standardized patients, other standardized participants (e.g. physicians and nurses), and non-interactive stations to assess participants.  In this session, an overview of the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy’s OSCE program will be provided, with emphasis on a final high-stakes OSCE that acts as milestone that students must pass to graduate.  This OSCE serves as a summative assessment and provides a glimpse into what students have learned throughout the program, and where there may be deficits.  Video vignettes will demonstrate exam structure and skills that are being assessed.  Additional discussion items will include “report cards” that students receive after each OSCE to highlight skills that are still in development, remedial activities for students who are not successful, plans for an OSCE that will form part of a midpoint assessment for pharmacy students, and changes to learning activities that arise based on observed student performance on OSCEs.  Furthermore, the audience will be engaged in a discussion on how other disciplines may adopt similar approaches (including timed stations and simulation) to assess students’ communication, critical thinking, and time management skills.  The presentation will leave participants with ideas of how to assess how knowledge and skill are applied in real-time.

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Session 204 - PRESENTATION - E-Portfolios: The possibilities and perils of requiring integration and usage in class

Karla Loebick, Graduate Student, Bailey Scholars Program, Michigan State University
Jennifer Rivera, Director, Bailey Scholars Program, Michigan State University
Dave Nguyen, Graduate Student, Bailey Scholars Program, Michigan State University
Stacey Fenton, Graduate Student, Bailey Scholars Program, Michigan State University
Erich Pitcher, Graduate Student, Bailey Scholars Program, Michigan State University
Li Yang, Graduate Student, Bailey Scholars Program, Michigan State University
Josephine Wee, Graduate Student, Bailey Scholars Program, Michigan State University

While e-portfolios are a common tool to document learning, little is known about their effectiveness in assessing integrated learning experiences.  Also, despite the proliferation of these authentic assessment tools, it is unclear how these tools assist students in connecting in-class learning with other experiences and what perspectives students have about the required usage of e-portfolios for courses. 

The Bailey Scholars Program, an interdisciplinary, self-directed, student-centered learning community at Michigan State University, fosters creativity among faculty and students to think outside the box surrounding teaching and learning. Bailey explores innovative approaches to document and assess learning that are responsive to student needs for life after Bailey, while being attentive to the uniqueness of a self-directed learning environment.

This presentation aims to inform practice and stimulate dialogue by sharing the findings of a recent study. The study’s goal was to better understand the implications and impact of implementing an e-portfolio system as a community-based tool to help monitor learning and personal growth in a sustainable, sharable manner. The compilation of findings point to some programmatic and pedagogical insights that are useful to consider when moving forward to adopt e-portfolios as an assessment tool. The study, through several phases, has explored the challenges and successes of documenting student learning and fostering the integration of knowledge through e-portfolio.

Contributing to evidence-based practice, in this presentation we will discuss the decision to use an e-portfolio as an assessment tool for an academic program in Connected Learning, the students’ perceptions on the value (possibilities and perils) of teaching and learning fostered from the incorporation/requirement of an e-portfolio, and best practices to be considered when implementing an e-portfolio system and when guiding students to combine traditional reflection with an innovative platform.

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Session 205 - PRESENTATION - Promoting participation and learning in higher education through gamification

Session Slides (PDF)

Dylon McChesney, Sessional Instructor and PhD Student, Philosophy

The basic idea of gamification is this: if you make learning like a game, then students should become more invested and hopefully engaged in completing learning objectives.  Gamification is becoming relatively popular in early education settings, but there are ample opportunities to introduce gamification into University classrooms as well.  I’ll present my recent experience replacing graded participation with “experience points” in a first year ARBUS class and suggest ways to incorporate feedback into game mechanics such that they extend beyond a simple motivational system into a pedagogically fruitful practice.  I’ll demonstrate how gamification can effectively make learning visible both inside and outside the classroom.  For example, rewarding experience points for simple tasks like posting reflections about lectures on a discussion board encourages students to continuously integrate new knowledge and develop useful study habits without the coercive pressure of working for actual grade points.

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Session 206 - PRESENTATION - Helping high school students make the transition to university

David Wang, Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

For many students, their desired outcome entering university can be described as maximum marks with minimal effort. On the other hand, university professors aim for deep learning achieved through hard work.  Most university resources, such as student counselling and mentorship, occur when the student is already struggling in first year, where intervention is much more difficult. It is argued in this talk that this disparity is best addressed by making students more self-aware while they are still at the secondary school level and by increasing collaboration between high school teachers and university professors.

The first part of the talk will discuss the factors that have created this gap between professors and students.  For the students, these include grade inflation, lack of fundamentals, technology and the focus on self-esteem that the students have been exposed to in high school.  The talk will then focus on the characteristics that maximize the probability of student success: Grit, perseverance and a growth mindset. 

Finally, the talk will focus on a pilot project aimed at high school students and teachers.  Using the presenter’s book entitled "First Year University Survival Guide: From Stress to Success", a workshop has been created that includes the aforementioned topics as well as activities to help the high school student reflect on and assess their own grit, ability to overcome failure and whether they have a fixed or growth mindset. High school teachers were also invited to participate in the workshop.   The presenter will share his experiences in putting on such a workshop and the obstacles in collaborating with high school teachers to improve student success in transitioning from high school to university.  Suggestions on how to increase collaboration between high school teachers and university professors will conclude the talk.

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Session 300s: 2:30 - 3:55 pm

Links to session descriptions: 301a, 301b, 301c, 302a, 302b, 302c, 303a, 303b, 303c, 304a, 304b, 304c, 305a, 305b, 305c, 306a, 306b, 306c

Session 301a - PRESENTATION - Threshold concepts as a lens for examining transformational teaching and learning in the Geographic Information Sciences (GISc)

Bill Hamm, Graduate Student, Geography and Environmental Management
Su-Yin Tan, Lecturer, Geography and Environmental Management

Dongrong Li, Graduate Student, Geography and Environmental Management
James McCarthy, Informatics Instructional Coordinator, Mapping, Analysis and Design, Environment Computing

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are one of the fastest growing fields in information technology concerned with storing and processing geospatial information. Land and Meyer (2003) defined a “threshold concept” as being transformative, irreversible, bounded, integrative, and troublesome, which serves as a lens to examine “portals” or “conceptual gateways” leading to new and previously inaccessible ways of thinking. Although there are some threshold concepts identified in the field of Geographic Information Science (GISc), virtually no empirical studies have been conducted to verify them.

We have conducted research to explore the role of common misconceptions or knowledge barriers among students learning GISc in higher education, a project funded by a UW/SSHRC Seed Grant. The empirical evidence is achieved through a series of end-of-term surveys conducted in an introductory GIS course, GEOG/PLAN 281 Introduction to GIS”, at the University of Waterloo. We attempted to gauge students’ spatial thinking abilities, prior academic knowledge and preparedness, and personal backgrounds. The survey aimed to identify the GISc concepts that students tend to find most troublesome or challenging. A “web” of threshold concepts was designed to visualize how these concepts are inter-related and to assess how they potentially impact the overall teaching and learning process, especially when overcoming “bottlenecks” in GISc education.

Students’ backgrounds played a crucial role when dealing with bottlenecks in the GISc learning process. Findings from this research may identify new opportunities for GIS educators not only in transforming their own views and ways of teaching, but also potentially enhancing student preparation and achievement of learning outcomes. Furthermore, the implications of this research extend beyond GISc learning and may be applicable to other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, where similar knowledge barriers may exist. Therefore, this research could subsequently lead to improving curricula development and knowledge mobilization strategies in a multidisciplinary approach.


Meyer, J.H.F. and Land, R. (2003). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: linkages to ways of thinking and practicing within the discipline. In C. Rust (Ed.), Improving Student Learning – Theory and Practice Ten Years On (pp. 412-424). Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development (OCLSD). 

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Session 301b - PRESENTATION - A knowledge base for Chemical Engineering high jump: setting and clearning the bar

Session Slides (PDF)

Jason Grove, Graduate Attributes Lecturer, Chemical Engineering
Marios Ioannidis, Professor, Chemical Engineering

Engineering is founded on a technical knowledge base. In this presentation, we will paint a picture of the chemical engineering knowledge base not in terms of introductory courses, as frequently done in curricular mapping, but by articulating five distinct concept domains underpinning the curriculum and showing how these domains evolve from disparate subject domains in first year into a cohesive whole by graduation.

Successful learning outcomes within each concept domain will be connected to achievement of a number of threshold concepts, and quantified in terms of student performance in concept tests. We will describe such testing as it has been attempted in three courses and demonstrate that meaningful data on students’ level of concept attainment can be obtained. Finally, we will reflect on this process and discuss our next steps, including wider deployment of this approach across the chemical engineering program and use of the data for program improvement.

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Session 301c - PRESENTATION - Comparing traditional and experiential approaches: The map scale threshold concept in two first-year Geography courses

Session Slides (PDF)

Peter Johnson, Assistant Professor, Geography and Environmental Management
Grant Gunn, PhD Student, Geography and Environmental Management

Recent work within Geographic Information Science (GIScience) education has aimed to define threshold concepts that learners encounter (Srivastava, 2013). A threshold concept is one that is transformative, in that they alter understanding of a subject, but also can be troublesome for learners, in that they are challenging, involve specific disciplinary language, or are otherwise problematic (Baillie, Bowden, & Meyer, 2013). Of specific interest to GIScience is the threshold concept of ‘map scale’ (Srivastava, 2013). Map scale pertains to understanding the impacts of different scales of representation on the accuracy and interpretation of spatial phenomena, and is considered a transformative (or threshold) concept in geography, as it forms the base for understanding other concepts (Meyer & Land, 2003). This presentation reports on the assessment of understanding of the map scale threshold concept between learners enrolled in two different first-year Geography courses at the University of Waterloo. One course was taught in a traditional fashion, and one employed experiential techniques. The traditional class uses a mix of lectures, textbook readings, and computer-based assignments using pre-cleaned datasets, whereas the experiential class adds hands-on engagement with the collection and cleaning of spatial data. Learners in each class were surveyed in the first week of class to determine their background and understanding of map scale. Learner course work (cartographic output) was then assessed at the end of term to evaluate changes in understanding of map scale. These two teaching strategies (traditional and experiential) are compared for how learners engage with and address the map scale threshold concept, with key findings and implications for teaching and course design both within Geography and in other disciplines adopting experiential approaches.


Baillie, C., Bowden, J. A., & Meyer, J. H. (2013). Threshold capabilities: threshold concepts and knowledge capability linked through variation theory. Higher Education, 65(2), 227-246.

Meyer, J., & Land, R. (2003). Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising within the Disciplines. In C. Rust (Ed.), Improving Student Learning - Theory and Practice Ten Years On. (pp. 412–424). Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development.

Srivastava, S. K. (2013). Threshold concepts in geographical information systems: a step towards conceptual understanding. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 37(3), 367–384.

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Session 302a - PRESENTATION - Enhancing learning through testing

Session Slides (PDF)

Jane Holbrook, Senior Instructional Developer, Blended Learning, Centre for Teaching Excellence
Mary Power, Faculty Liaison: Science, Centre for Teaching Excellence

Christine Dupont, Continuing Lecturer, Biology
Steve Joordens, Professor, Psychology, University of Toronto, Scarborough

mTuner is an “assessment for learning” tool that uses multiple-choice questions to simultaneously evaluate and enhance student learning.   Students answer a question via text entry before seeing and selecting a multiple–choice answer option. If they select incorrectly they are offered a hint and another chance to answer the question. All students receive feedback at the end of each question. This answering sequence helps students engage in retrieval practice which is important in cementing learning through the “testing effect” (Roediger & Bulter, 2011). mTuner also takes advantage of students’ heightened receptivity to learning and retaining information when in an assessment situation and focused on the material  (McDaniel, Anderson, Derbish & McDermott, 2007).  mTuner minimizes the negative effect that multiple choice testing can have on learning when there is no feedback. Roediger and Marsh (2005) found that when students select an incorrect answer on an assessment and do not receive corrective feedback, they will subsequently repeat the mistake.

While piloting the use of mTuner as a self-assessment tool in a large introductory Biology course we determined that students, who all had access to similar LEARN and mTuner quizzes, preferred mTuner over the LEARN quizzing tool for self-assessments. We also ascertained that students valued the immediate feedback (the correctness of their answers and feedback explaining why one option was the correct one) provided after each question more than the hints or the retrieval practice aspect of the questions.  While there was no significant difference in exam grades between students who took either the LEARN or mTuner practice quizzes; those who participated in either or both quiz formats scored significantly higher on matched questions on the exams. Participants in this session will be introduced to this innovative tool and how students can use it to assess what they know and do not know.


McDaniel, M. A., Anderson, J. L., Derbish, M. H., & Morrisette, N. (2007). Testing the testing effect in the classroom. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 19, 494-513.

Roediger, H.L. & Butler, A.C. (2011). The critical role of retrieval practice in long-term retention. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15, 20-26.

Roediger, H.L., & Marsh, E.J. (2005).   The Positive and Negative Consequences of Multiple-Choice Testing.  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 31, 1155–1159.

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Session 302b - PRESENTATION - Performance enhancers: Creating and using mini-online modules to improve learning

Session Slides (PDF)

Andrew Laing, Assistant Professor, Kinesiology
Justin Yates, Laboratory Instructor, Kinesiology

Christine Zaza, Faculty Liaison: Applied Health Sciences, Centre for Teaching Excellence
Kelly Anthony, Continuing Lecturer, School of Public Health and Health Systems and Teaching Fellow, Faculty Applied Health Sciences

Two Kinesiology instructors identified several particularly challenging physics concepts for students and investigated ways to improve learning and make the concepts more “visible”.  Blended learning is described as a blending of campus and online education for the express purpose of enhancing the quality of learning experiences and has demonstrated promise on many university campuses (Bonk & Graham, 2005; US Department of Education, 2010). This session will describe a LITE funded blended learning pilot study on supporting and improving student knowledge and application of basic physics concepts in an introductory biomechanics course through the use of blended learning activities. It also supports the University of Waterloo’s strategic mandate to be a leading provider of technology enabled learning opportunities.  Web-based modules were designed, based on extensive student feedback, to encourage Kinesiology students to apply their knowledge of biomechanics to the analysis of world-class athletes. It serves as an example of incorporating a “high impact” teaching approach into a large introductory level course.  The instructors then provided these interactive and dynamic online modules- making the learning literally ‘visible’.  Results were strongly supportive of this teaching and learning approach as evidenced by student’s self reports and by module access data by topic and overall. Presenters will also share ‘lessons learned’ and guidance for creating, utilizing, and measuring the impact of blended learning activities.


C. J. Bonk & C. R. Graham (Eds.) (2005) Handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer Publishing.

US Department of Education. (2010). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. U.S. Department of Education Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development Policy and Program Studies Service. 

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Session 302c - PRESENTATION - Replacing listening with learning: The assessment of a "flipped" organic Chemistry course

Ken Hoekstra, Undergraduate Researcher, Chemistry
Julie Goll, Laboratory Instructor, Chemistry

Stephen Forsey, Lecturer and Medicinal Chemistry Advisor & Undergraduate Officer, Chemistry
Mary Power, Faculty Liaison: Science, Centre for Teaching Excellence

With a flipped classroom approach to teaching students are delivered the content to learn on their own time, usually in the form of video and or reading, and class time is then used to apply the learned information  (such as by solving practice problems) and to review and delve deeper into the concepts (Tucker 2012). This model gives students the chance to actively solve problems as a group and when questions arise, the professor or a TA is nearby to answer them.

Students enrolled in CHEM 266 (Basic Organic Chemistry 1) in the fall of 2014 participated in this style of classroom. After the course was completed, students were invited to participate in an online survey which asked them about their satisfaction with flipped classroom model used in CHEM 266 as well as their participation in the course. Final grades from the students were used as an indication of whether or not this method of teaching was beneficial. The responses and final grades were analyzed to determine if there is a significant statistical difference between flipped classroom teaching and traditional teaching.

An overview of how the CHEM 266 course was taught as well as the results of this survey will be presented. This will include the students’ satisfaction, engagement, how actively they participated and the final grade that they achieved.

The preliminary results of this study have shown to be promising. In both the student’s answers about their satisfaction and their engagement in the flipped classroom setting. The final grades as compared to previous years also favours the flipped style of learning. The main purpose of this research is to question the way classes are currently taught and provide some tools to improve teaching and learning experiences in the future.


B. Tucker, The Flipped Classroom. Education Next. 2012 12(1).

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Session 303a - PRESENTATION - Enhancing deep learning: The benefits of reflection through collaborative work

Session Slides (PDF)

Emiko Yoshida, Lecturer, Social Development Studies, Renison University College
Keely Cook, Assistant Director and BASE Curriculum Coordinator, English Language Institute, Renison University College

Kyle Scholz, Faculty Liaison: Arts, Centre for Teaching Excellence
Elizabeth A. Stankiewicz, Undergraduate Student, Psychology

Reflection is an important aspect of experiential learning (Kolb & Kolb, 2005). However, without instructors creating opportunities and supporting students’ reflective processes, reflection may not necessarily lead to deep learning (Moon, 1999). In this presentation, we demonstrate how encouraging students through the use of technology-mediated assignments to connect course material to real life situations - a critical component of experiential learning - will deepen their learning. Further, we present a unique way to extend the benefits of experiential learning by adopting an interaction for learning framework (see Arkoudis, Baik & Richardson, 2012) that promotes culturally and linguistically diverse peer interactions. After this presentation, the participants will learn how reflective practices will help students to become aware of their learning process and the progress that they have made.

The students from a cross-cultural psychology course (PSYCH 349R) collaborate with the international students from the Bridge to Academic Success in English (BASE) program through a series of informal interviews/ conversations aimed at applying what they have learned in class to real life contexts. Throughout this term-long endeavour, students are expected to develop important reflexive practices by learning about different attitudes or perspectives, taking a step back and reflecting on their learning processes, and sharing their reflections and ideas about their learning with their partners; in doing so, "their sense of empathy and encouragement grows, as does their understanding of each other" (Welikala & Watkins, 2008, p.59). In an effort to encourage students’ active reflection and assess their ability to apply course concepts, instructors have incorporated either an e-Portfolio (PSYCH 349) or reflective audio recording (BASE) assessments into their curriculum.

We argue that pedagogical strategies that create experiential, reflective and interactive learning opportunities for students can be implemented in various disciplines and in ways that continue to enhance international and domestic student relations.


Arkoudis, S., Baik, C., & Richardson, S. (2012).English language standards in higher education. Melbourne: Australian Council for Eduational Research.

Kolb, A.Y., & Kolb, D.A. (2005). The Kolb Learning Style Inventory – Version 3.1: 2005 Technical Specifications. Haygroup: Experience Based Learning Systems Inc.

Moon, J. A. (1999). Reflection in Learning and Professional Development: Theory and Practice. London: Kogan Page Limited.

Welikala, T. & Watkins, C. (2008). Improving Intercultural Learning Experiences in Higher Education: Responding to cultural scripts for learning. London: Institute of Education, University of London.

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Session 303b - PRESENTATION - Student reflection: Lessons from community engaged learning and it's application in the face-to-face classroom

Sarah McLean, Educator and E-learning Coordinator, Physiology and Pharmacology, Western University
Melissa Ostrowski, Alternative Spring Break Program Coordinator, Student Success Centre, Western University

Western University has a thriving Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program that first launched in 2002 with 5 students travelling to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This year, 170 students along with 18 staff/faculty team leaders and 11 student team leaders will be engaging in 10 community engaged learning experiences. ASB’s community engaged learning is based on Western University members interacting with local and international organizations to exchange resources to address critical societal issues. Importantly, students participate in civic engagement and social responsibility issues that extend beyond their classroom experience at Western.

One of the most important components of the ASB program is reflection. Team leaders are trained in the importance of reflection for fostering deep student learning. Furthermore, during each day of the service experience, dedicated time is allocated for reflection and team building. By focusing on reflection as a key component to community engaged learning, students can identify how their service projects relate to other aspects of their education and to their broader career goals as a whole.

In the classroom setting, there is generally little time dedicated for student self-reflection and team building. Students are expected to learn and to perform but have little time dedicated to thinking about that process. This practice-based presentation will draw on the experiences of an ASB team leader and how the community engaged learning model of ASB informed her teaching in a fourth-year flipped classroom course. Drawing on her experiences in ASB, the team leader embedded student self-reflection activities, as well as expectation and team-building exercises to enhance the classroom experience and make learning more transparent. Participants in this session will learn about the community engaged learning model from the coordinator of the Western ASB program and will learn about strategies to incorporate student reflection in classroom activities.

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Session 303c  CANCELLED

PRESENTATION - Incorporating reflection assignments in Biology courses

Bill Ju, Senior Lecturer, Human Biology Program, University of Toronto

Previous research by Krause and Stark (2010) has demonstrated that reflection can increase student learning and enhance learning outcomes in courses. In addition, research by Lew and Schmidt (2011) suggests that by "directing" writing, this actively promotes reflection and learning among students. Based on these previous studies, reflective writing assignments were incorporated in core biology courses at the University of Toronto as part of scaffolded assessments (including tests and written assignments). Reflective writing assignments replaced traditional participation grades in these courses as part of the scaffolding process. "Directed" reflective writing approaches both before and after tests/assignments in several large introductory courses were specifically examined whether this increased students' appreciation of the course concepts, increased awareness of the required preparation for tests and assignments as well as if they increased students' overall satisfaction within the various courses. Specifically the effectiveness in several key areas found that for many students reflective writing in biology: 1) enhances the student learning experience, 2) improves student use of resources and 3) allows for a contextualization of their learning within biology beyond the current courses. The types of reflective assignments used will be shared in this presentation for potential use across disciplines beyond the life sciences and may allow student learners to have a better appreciation of the way in which they learn, no matter the discipline.


Krause and Stark (2010). Reflection in Example- and Problem-Based Learning: Effects of Reflection Prompts, Feedback and Cooperative Learning. Evaluation and Research in Education 23 (4): 255-272.

Lew and Schmidt (2011). Writing to Learn: Can Reflection Journals Be Used to Promote Self-Reflection and Learning? Higher Education Research and Development 30(4): 519-532

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Session 304a - PRESENTATION - 2008 Listeriosis outbreak case study: Balancing openness and prescription for student learning in a technical elective course

Session Slides (PDF)

Christine Moresoli, Professor, Chemical Engineering
Mary Robinson, Associate Director, First Year Engineering Office

Cheryl Newton, Design Engineer and Design Case Developer, Waterloo Cases in Design Engineering
Lyndia Ellen Stacey, Case Study Specialist, Waterloo Cases in Design Engineering

Teaching with case studies engages students in their learning and provides connections between theory and real life situations. [1] We have developed, together with Waterloo Cases in Design Engineering, a case study on the Listeriosis outbreak at the Maple Leaf Bartor Road facility.  This case was developed based on material available in the literature.  This case study has been used in the fourth-year food process engineering technical elective course at the University of Waterloo since 2013.

In this learning activity, students were asked to identify and reflect on the root causes of the Listeriosis outbreak and to recommend actions in specific food safety and processing areas to prevent a similar situation from occurring. Students were encouraged to develop these recommendations using their engineering knowledge and problem-solving skills, while making reference to publicly available resources.

In this presentation, we will comment on the successes and challenges faced in promoting student learning while balancing a rigid lesson plan with set learning objectives versus allowing the students the freedom to explore the subject matter. Learning tasks and their communication will be compared and contrasted between the three different offerings of this activity. The importance of communicating learning objectives for open-ended activities such as case studies and promoting student engagement to achieve those learning objectives will also be discussed in the context of a facilitator role for the instructor.


[1] L.A. Maufette-Leenders, J.A. Erskine, M.R. Leenders.  Learning with Cases – 4th Edition. 2007, Senton Printing, London ON.

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Session 304b - PRESENTATION - Written assessment methods for clinical reasoning

Session Slides (PDF)

Patricia Hrynchak, Clinical Professor, Optometry & Vision Science

The cognitive processes that occur in clinical practice in the assessment, diagnosis and management of a patient are called clinical reasoning. 1 It is essential that students in health professions education develop this ability and be appropriately assessed. Assessment makes the cognitive skill visible. The problems with written assessments of clinical reasoning include the fact that there is no gold standard, there is case specificity (how reasoning occurs in one case is not the same for all) and the intermediate effect (intermediate level trainees do better than experts). 1

This talk will review how multiple choice questions can be designed to assess higher order reasoning. It will also review less known written assessment methods for clinical reasoning the script concordance test and key-feature examinations.1, 2 The script concordance test format aims to measure clinical data interpretation in ambiguous cases.2 A change in probability of the condition based on new findings is assigned by the candidate. 2 A key feature is defined as “a significant step in the resolution of a problem”. 1 Examinations using key-feature questions focus on a challenging aspect in the diagnosis and/or management of a problem where errors are most likely to occur. The validity and reliability of each testing method will be explored.1,2,3 Sample questions will be provided as well as the advantages and disadvantages to using the different assessment tools.

This talk will be of particular interest to faculty members from healthcare education such as optometry, pharmacy, psychology, applied health sciences and social work.

The learning objectives for this talk are:

  • Recall different assessment methods for clinical reasoning.
  • Appraise the written assessment methods for utility in your educational setting.


  1. Hrynchak P, Takahashi SG, Nayer M Key-feature questions for assessment of clinical reasoning: a literature review. Med Educ. 2014 Sep;48(9):870-83.
  2. Dory V, Gagnon R, Vanpee D, Charlin B. How to construct and implement script concordance tests: insights from a systematic review. Medical education. 2012;46:552-563.
  3. Lineberry M, Kreiter C, Bordage G. Threats to validity in the use and interpretation of script concordance test scores. Medical Education. 2013;47(1175-1183).

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Session 304c - PRESENTATION - How much is enough? Communicating expectations in ePortfolio usage

Session Slides (PDF)

Kyle Scholz, Faculty Liaison: Arts, Centre for Teaching Excellence
Crystal Tse, Educational Research Associate, Centre for Teaching Excellence

Katherine Lithgow, Senior Instructional Developer, Integrative Learning, Centre for Teaching Excellence

After a decade of eportfolio usage at the University of Waterloo, our research seeks to better align and understand the experiences of instructors and students utilizing eportfolios and contribute to developing evidence-based best practices (see Brownell & Swaner, 2010; Kuh, 2008; Kuh, O’Donnell & Reed, 2013). To this end, we question: to what extent students and instructors are agreeing on the goals and the rationale behind using eportfolios; what might be done to ensure a better alignment between instructor and student expectations and leverage the power of eportfolios, and; how does the communication of expectations influence the success of eportfolios as a form of assessment?

To answer these questions, we analyze student and instructor approaches and reactions to eportfolio activities throughout a semester in three distinct courses across various disciplines. The Connect to Learning ePortfolio Survey (http://c2l.mcnrc.org/) is administered to all students utilizing eportfolios, and is supplemented by multiple focus groups with students and interviews with the instructor, in order to understand the experiences and impressions of eportfolios and their application of Finley’s four characteristics for high quality high impact practices – intentionality, transparency, interaction, and reflection (see Felton, 2013).

Our findings suggest that by seeking common ground between both student and instructor approaches in outcomes assessment, and by identifying those pedagogical strategies which helped contribute to the alignment of expectations between student and instructor, instructors can be better informed and supported in crafting eportfolio assignments that meet their intended outcomes and are indeed assessable, while also acknowledging learner orientation towards the purported goals of the assessment.

We will share best practices that can be adopted by instructors who are interested in eportfolios and provide concrete examples as to what is recommended to ensure ePortfolio implementation leads to successful learning opportunities for our students.


Brownell, J. E., & Swaner, L. E. (2010). Five high-impact practices: Research on learning outcomes, completion and quality. Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Felten, P. (2013). High quality high impact practices. [blog post comment]. 

Kuh, G. D. (2008). High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are. Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter. Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Kuh, G. D., O’Donnell, K., & Reed, S. (2013). Ensuring quality and taking high-impact practices to scale. Association of American Colleges and Universities.

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Session 305a - PRESENTATION - Reading in front of each other: Using in-class micro-readings to cultivate student literacy skills

Session Paper (PDF)

Shannon Dea, Associate Professor, Philosophy and Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Arts

Reading – critical, inquisitive, methodical reading – is central to humanistic scholarship. However, it is a practice Humanities scholars engage in alone. Our students do not typically see their instructors or peers read, and receive little to no instruction in scholarly reading. Thus, it can take years of solitary trial and error for Humanities students to learn how to do it. Assigning “micro-readings” – short excerpts from primary texts – for students to read in small groups in class can help address this challenge. When students read in front of each other, it makes explicit skills and methods that, too often, are only implicit in university teaching and learning.

I summarize Silvermintz’s research on the effectiveness of reading groups in Philosophy classes before describing my own experiments using reading groups to improve lower division students’ scholarly reading skills. In 2009 and 2010, in a 2nd year class in North America, I assigned readings as usual and had students meet for an hour a week in small groups outside of class to discuss short excerpts from those readings. In 2012 and 2013, in 1st year classes in China, the only readings I assigned were in-class micro-readings; students discussed these readings in small groups in class. The first model failed; the second one succeeded. I argue that the latter model was successful because it helps to make good reading mechanisms explicit, and better permits novices to engage scholarly prose with confidence and curiosity. Moreover, micro-readings allow instructors to devote class time to student interaction with texts and ideas rather than to lecture summaries of those texts and ideas.

Having sketched the micro-reading method, I will break audience members into small groups so that they can test drive a typical micro-reading exercise. We’ll conclude by discussing possible applications and limitations of the micro-reading model within Canadian Humanities courses.

Works Cited

Silvermintz, Daniel. “Reading Philosophy With Friends: Introducing Reading Groups into the Philosophy Classroom,” Teaching philosophy 29.3 (2006) 237-244.

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Session 305b - PRESENTATION - Presenting grey [matter] to peers

Amanda Hooykaas, Adjunct Faculty and Field Course Developer, Environment

In the classroom educators often guide students toward definitive answers. It is implied that certainty about something determines authority of it. And we strive to provide opportunities for students to develop some level of authority over topics.

I suggest an alternative perspective: We should be aiming for grey. Where our students take classes to seek clarity, I aim to provide some muddling of the mind. This, at first, may be uncomfortable for students - what might have been black or white is no longer so definite. And, to further push the comfort of my students, I require them to present the grey, to proclaim uncertainty, and to share their own unique interpretations of it.

In this practice-based presentation, I share an approach I have taken to teaching the grey. In ERS 360: Nature: Art, Myth, and Folklore (field course), we began by defining key terms. We then spent the rest of the week unpacking various notions through guest speakers, service learning, reflection, and readings. With each activity, the lines between these terms became blurrier.

The final assignment challenged the students to now redefine the terms based on their own experiences in the field. Concepts that were once so clear needed to be reimagined and expressed. I encouraged them to reach beyond traditional means of academic expression to integrate media, art, and poetry. This enabled the students to present “grey” in a confident and truly self-representative manner.

I offer my audience insights into the learning process, challenges with legitimizing uncertainty (“flexible outcomes”) in the syllabus, addressing resistance in students, modifying this approach for lower year classes, and the importance of presenting the grey with the larger community. It is my hope that the audience leaves my presentation feeling some comfort with grey.

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Session 305c - PRESENTATION - Digital lectures to support a flipped classroom

Session Slides (PDF)

Melissa Jean, Associate Professor, Management and Organizational Studies, Brescia University College, Western University
Vicki Sweeney, Assistant Professor, Management and Organizational Studies, Huron University College, Western University

The purpose of the presentation is to share the empirical findings from a digital lecture creation and implementation project for an introductory accounting course.   

Although the course for which the digital lectures had been created had been taught using the “flipped classroom” model since its inception, the only supports available to help students learn the content were the textbook readings and summary PowerPoint slides (referred to as “Topic Slides”).  These supports were reported as inadequate by students via course evaluations.  The project attempted to make teaching more visible to students who were expected to understand content in advance of each class.

The proposed solution was to convert the course Topic Slides into digital lecture files that would literally “talk” students through the material. Based on the work of Bongey et al. (2006), Robinson and Ritzko (2009) and Taylor (2012), the researchers hypothesized that students would welcome these learning tools and that usage would exceed that of the Topic Slides. 

Before making digital lecture files available, the researchers administered a questionnaire to (in part) determine the interest in such an undertaking.A response rate of 30.6% (n = 471) indicated that 59.7% of students would be extremely likely/likely to use the digital lecture files if available.

The second questionnaire was administered after the digital files were made available to students and a response rate of 21.9% (n = 356) revealed that only 16.6% of the students used the digital versions and that 80% favoured the use of the traditional Topic Slides.The respondents reported a number of reasons for not using the digital lecture files including ability to understand the material without additional support, insufficient time to review the digital lectures and lack of knowledge that the files existed.

This presentation will be relevant to individuals from any discipline who have considered the costs/benefits of creating and implementing digital lectures as part of their course experience.


Bongey, S. B., Cizadlo, G., & Kalnbach, L. (2006). Explorations in course-casting: podcasts in higher education. Campus-Wide Information Systems, 23(5), 350–367. 

Robinson, S., & Ritzko, J. (2009). Podcasts in Education: What, Why and How? Allied Academies International Conference.Academy of Educational Leadership.Proceedings, 14(1), 38.

Taylor, L. (2012). Supporting student self-study: The educational design of podcasts in a collaborative learning context. Active Learning in Higher Education, 13(1), 77–90. 

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Session 306a - PRESENTATION - Making creativity visible: An examination of the presence and positioning of creativity within undergraduate course outlines

Beth Marquis, Associate Director (Research) and Assistant Professor, McMaster Institute for Innovation & Excellence in Teaching and Learning (MIIETL) and Arts & Science Program, McMaster University
Stephanie Bertolo, Undergraduate Student, MIIETL and Arts & Science Program, McMaster University

Joshua Feldman, Undergraduate Student, MIIETL and Arts & Science Program, McMaster University
Leah Pantich, Undergraduate Student, MIIETL and Health, Aging & Society, McMaster University
Christine Ung, Undergraduate Student, MIIETL and Psychology, Neuroscience, & Behaviour, McMaster University

It is commonly believed that universities ought to foster creativity in their students (McWilliam & Dawson, 2008; Walsh et al., 2013; Zacher & Johnson, 2014), yet studies have shown that it is only rarely incorporated into courses and curricula as an explicit, central and intentionally facilitated learning outcome (Jackson, 2008, Marquis & Vajoczki, 2012; Marquis & Henderson, in press). To the extent that named learning outcomes make visible key knowledge, skills and values to be developed in a course (Biggs, 2003), this discrepancy suggests that creativity is not currently facilitated in many university courses and programs in an optimal way.

By conducting an in depth examination of course outlines, the present study provides a preliminary picture of the extent to which instructors at one Canadian institution explicitly communicate an intent to teach creativity in their undergraduate courses. Using a modified version of an analytical tool developed by Jackson & Shaw (2006), we conducted a close analysis of undergraduate course outlines for the 2013-14 academic year across all departments and faculties at the study institution. The intent was to determine how commonly instructors alluded to creativity as a learning objective or an assessment criterion, and whether the frequency of these references varied within outlines across disciplines, levels, and class structures. Similarly, a qualitative analysis was completed to gather information about ways in which creativity is taught and assessed in these contexts. This presentation will discuss the results of this study, and will encourage attendees to consider the explicit place of creativity within their own institutions and disciplines.


Biggs, J. (2003). Aligning teaching for constructing learning. Higher Education Academy.

Jackson, N. (2008). Tackling the wicked problem of creativity in higher education. 

Jackson, N., & Shaw, M. (2006). Developing subject perspectives on creativity in higher education. In Developing Creativity in Higher Education: An Imaginative Curriculum (pp. 89–108). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Marquis, E., & Henderson, J.A. (in press). Teaching creativity across disciplines at Ontario universities. Accepted for publication in The Canadian Journal of Higher Education.

Marquis, E., & Vajoczki, S. (2012). Creative differences: Teaching creativity across the disciplines. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6(1). 

McWilliam, E., & Dawson, S. (2008). Teaching for creativity: towards sustainable and replicable pedagogical practice. Higher Education, 56(6), 633–643. doi:10.1007/s10734-008-9115-7

Walsh, E., Anders, K., Hancock, S., & Elvidge, L. (2013). Reclaiming creativity in the era of impact: exploring ideas about creative research in science and engineering. Studies in Higher Education, 38(9), 1259–1273. doi:10.1080/03075079.2011.620091

Zacher, H., & Johnson, E. (2014). Leadership and creativity in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, doi:10.1080/03075079.2014.881340

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Session 306b - PRESENTATION - Opening new doors: Developing an online portal to support Teaching Assistants

Bruce Dadey, Lecturer, English Language and Literature
Stephanie White, Lecturer, English Language and Literature

Faculty in English Language and Literature recently developed an online Teaching Portal to provide more support for our TAs. Following the example of online writing labs like the Purdue OWL, which are designed for students, we created a teaching-centered resource that provides examples, best practices, and current research on teaching rhetoric, literature, and writing. We had specific goals: to build TAs’ confidence; to provide a centralized source for the department’s teaching policies and guidelines; and to make visible best practices and theories that faculty follow in their teaching. In this way, we’ve asked, “How can we make the thinking underlying our instructional decisions more explicit for our TAs?”

Along the way, we’ve encountered further questions. We’ve considered how this resource reflects or shapes the teaching culture of the department. We’ve asked how the portal might lead to better teaching and might make the teaching experience a richer and more developmental one for TAs. And we’ve considered what an online resource offers and what its limitations are. Logistically, we’ve questioned how we can make the site easy to navigate and access, as well as making it appealing and visible. While we’ve come to working answers to these questions, we continue to develop and redesign the portal.

In this presentation, we’ll describe how we initially created the portal, sharing screenshots and describing the theoretical motivations behind our decisions. We’ll then discuss the portal’s reception, challenges we’re still facing, changes we’ve made, and our future goals for the portal. Finally, we’ll facilitate a discussion for participants to consider how they might develop or expand on similar resources for TAs in their own departments.

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Session 306c - PRESENTATION - Making visible instructors' perceptions of film as a teaching & learning tool

Beth Marquis, Associate Director (Research) and Assistant Professor, McMaster Institute for Innovation & Excellence in Teaching and Learning (MIIETL) and Arts & Science Program, McMaster University
Effie Lin, Undergraduate Student, MIIETL and Arts & Science Program, McMaster University

Victoria McKinnon, Undergraduate Student, MIIETL and Arts & Science Program, McMaster University
Cassia Wojcik, Undergraduate Student, MIIETL and Arts & Science Program, McMaster University

Film and television have been used as teaching tools in multiple disciplines and levels of the education system (e.g., Luccasen & Thomas, 2010; Madsen, 2014; Marcus & Stoddard, 2009; Sealey, 2008). Past research suggests that audio-visual texts can support a number of pedagogical goals, including increasing empathy (Jarvis & Gouthro, 2013), illustrating concepts (Andrist et al., 2014; Pelton, 2013), and promoting the development of professional skills (Ber & Alroy, 2002; Lumlertgul et al., 2009). Instructor motivations for using film, however, are wide-ranging, and have not always been carefully thought through or made explicit to students (Hobbs, 2006). Understanding the diverse ways in which instructors use film in teaching is an important step in making visible pedagogical decisions that often remain hidden, thereby increasing the efficacy of teaching and learning through film.

This session will present the preliminary results of a pilot study that aims to make visible faculty motivations for using film for teaching and learning across a wide range of disciplines. We are currently recruiting instructors from across campus at McMaster University to complete an in-depth, online survey that asks when (if at all) they use film in their teaching, why they use it, what types of film they typically deploy, and whether they believe these strategies to be effective. Drawing from the study results, session attendees will have an opportunity to learn about a wide range of purposes for which instructors use film across disciplinary contexts, and to consider the extent to which these strategies and uses might apply to their own teaching and learning situations. By posing the survey questions during the presentation, we will also encourage participants to begin (or continue) the process of making visible their own rationale for considering/employing film as an educational tool, thus laying the groundwork for more intentional, explicit, and effective uses.


Andrist, L., Chepp, V., Dean, P., & Miller, M. V. (2014). Toward a Video Pedagogy A Teaching Typology with Learning Goals. Teaching Sociology, 0092055X14524962. doi:10.1177/0092055X14524962

Ber, R., & Alroy, G. (2002). Teaching professionalism with the aid of trigger films. Medical Teacher, 24(5), 528–531. doi:10.1080/0142159021000012568

Jarvis, C., & Gouthro, P. (2013, June). The role of the arts in professional education; making the invisible, visible. Conference presented at the Research in Work and Learning, University of Stirling. 

Hobbs, R. (2006). Non‐optimal Uses of Video in the Classroom. Learning, Media and Technology 31(1), 35-50.

Luccasen, R. A., & Thomas, M. K. (2010). Simpsonomics: Teaching Economics Using Episodes of The Simpsons. The Journal of Economic Education, 41(2), 136–149. doi:10.1080/00220481003613847

Lumlertgul, N., Kijpaisalratana, N., Pityaratstian, N., & Wangsaturaka, D. (2009). Cinemeducation: A pilot student project using movies to help students learn medical professionalism. Medical Teacher, 31(7), e327–e332. doi:10.1080/01421590802637941

Madsen, K. D. (2014). Blue Indians: Teaching the Political Geography of Imperialism With Fictional Film. Journal of Geography, 113(2), 47–57. doi:10.1080/00221341.2012.759994

Marcus, A. S., & Stoddard, J. D. (2009). The Inconvenient Truth about Teaching History with Documentary Film: Strategies for Presenting Multiple Perspectives and Teaching Controversial Issues. The Social Studies, 100(6), 279–284. doi:10.1080/00377990903283957

Pelton, J. (2013). Seeing the theory is believing: Writing about film to reduce theory anxiety. Teaching Sociology 41(1), 106-120.

Sealey, K. S. (2008). Film, Politics, & Education: Cinematic Pedagogy Across the Disciplines. Peter Lang.

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Session 400s: 4:10 - 5:10 pm

Links to session descriptions: 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 406a, 406b, 407a, 407b

Session 401 - PANEL - Experiential learning activies: The Engineering Ideas Clinic experience

Session Slides (PDF)

Session Authors:
William Bishop, Continuing Lecturer, Electrical & Chemical Engineering
Andrew Trivett, Lecturer, Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering
Jason Grove, Graduate Attributes Lecturer, Chemical Engineering
Ada Hurst, Lecturer, Management Sciences
Benny Mantin, Assistant Professor, Management Sciences
Jim Baleshta, Design Engineer, Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering
Samar Mohamed, Faculty Liaison: Engineering, Centre for Teaching Excellence
Carol Hulls, Continuing Lecturer, Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering
Chris Rennick, Senior Demonstrator, Engineering Undergraduate Office
Michele Bristow, Lecturer, Systems Design Engineering
Mary Robinson, Associate Director, First Year Engineering Office
Sanjeev Bedi, Professor, Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering
Jen Rathlin, EIT, Clinic Engineer, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering
Andrew Trivett, Lecturer, Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering
Jason Grove, Graduate Attributes Lecturer, Chemical Engineering
Ada Hurst, Lecturer, Management Sciences
William Bishop, Continuing Lecturer, Electrical & Chemical Engineering

Experiential learning is an undergraduate degree-level expectation of the curriculum at the University of Waterloo.  An effective experiential learning activity is one that encourages students to reflect upon the activity and promotes students to actively experiment to develop understanding [1].  This seminar presents an ambitious project by the Faculty of Engineering to introduce experiential learning activities into every undergraduate engineering program through the implementation of the Engineering Ideas Clinic Experience.

The general philosophy of the Engineering Ideas Clinic Experience is to provide students with exposure to a breadth of hands-on activities that span the disciplines of engineering.  Each activity is offered as a two hour workshop incorporated into a course.  Workshops are run by multi-disciplinary teams of mentors who promote active experimentation.  Minimal instructions are provided.  Students work in small groups to complete the activity.  Each workshop activity is associated with a set of expected learning outcomes.  Students are assessed on their participation and/or their understanding of the activity, as desired by the course instructor.  By careful design, the Engineering Ideas Clinic Experience delivers both horizontal integration (i.e., integration across disciplines) and vertical integration (i.e., integration across program years).  This prepares students to work together effectively in a multi-disciplinary setting.

In this presentation, an outline for developing an experiential learning activity will be described.  This will be followed by a discussion of pilot projects implemented in 2014:

  1. Disassembling a Coffee Maker
  2. Exploring Products in the Repair Café
  3. Manufacturing a Key Chain
  4. Assembling a Remote-Control Car
  5. Building an Electric Motor

Instructors will introduce each activity, the expected learning outcomes, and the resource requirements.  Attendees will have an opportunity to interact with the designs created in the workshops.  By the end of this presentation, you will better understand how to introduce experiential learning into your own courses.


[1] Kolb, D. A. (1984) Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice Hall.

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Session 402 - WORKSHOP - Off-roading: Letting learners decide how to make their learning visible in student-designed assessments

Session Slides (PDF)

Session Handout 1 (PDF)

Session Handout 2 (PDF)

Shannon Dea, Associate Professor, Philosophy and Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Arts
Kelly Anthony, Continuing Lecturer, School of Public Health and Health Systems and Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

Which routes OND registrants take to get to the conference will depend on a variety of factors – where they are coming from, mode of transportation, etc. And yet, as educators, we often expect students to follow a common route to their intended learning outcomes. Like travellers, learners set off from different starting points and use different modes to reach their destinations. Imposing a single route upon all students not only ignores differences between learners; it also risks depriving learners of an opportunity for higher order thinking. After all, one who has found her own route to a destination arguably understands the location of that destination better than someone who has simply followed a set of instructions (Jones 2007). In emphasizing “what the student does” (Shuell 1986, Biggs 1999) rather than what the teacher knows, student-designed assessments “allow students the freedom to learn and express their learning in a way that is most appropriate to the students whilst still maintaining academic rigour and equality” (Ryan 2013, 31).

This workshop proceeds in three stages. First, the co-presenters will sketch their respective Fall 2014 experiments with student-designed assessments. While their approaches were very different, they yielded similar benefits. In particular, student-designed assessments supported student engagement, meta-cognition, intellectual autonomy, and integrative thinking. Having been exposed to two different models for student-designed assessments, workshop participants will work in facilitated small groups to consider how they might adapt their own courses to include student-designed assessments. Participants will be encouraged to attend to such issues as class size, appropriate scaffolding, authentic assessment, student and instructor workload, and evaluation criteria. The workshop will conclude with a large group discussion about how to decide which courses are appropriate loci for student-designed assessments.

Works Cited

Biggs, John. “What the Student Does: teaching for enhanced learning.” Higher Education Research & Development 18.1 (1999) 55-75.

Jones, Colin. “Creating the reasonable adventurer: the co-evolution of student and learning environment.” Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development 14.2 (2007) 228-240.

Ryan, Barry. “Flipping Over: Student-Centred Learning and Assessment.” Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice 1.2 (2013) 30-39.

Shuell, Thomas. “Cognitive Conceptions of Learning.” Review of Educational Research 56.4 (Winter 1986) 411-436.

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Session 403 - PANEL - Challenges associated with high school students transitioning to university: The view from both sides

Session Slides (PDF)

Session Authors and Panelists:
Rohan Jayasundera, Continuing Lecturer, Physics & Astronomy, Senior Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Science
Jonathan Witt, Associate Professor and Teaching Fellow, Biology
Carey Bissonnette, Continuing Lecturer and Teaching Fellow, Chemistry
Brewster Conant Jr, Research Professor and Teaching Fellow, Earth & Environmental Sciences
Wing-Ki Liu, Professor and Teaching Fellow, Physics & Astronomy

The transition from high school to university is often a difficult one. Students struggle to meet new expectations and adapt to a learning environment characterized by larger class sizes, less class time, more independent work, and a lot more material to learn. Their preparedness for making a successful transition from high school to university spans a wide range.  The Science Faculty teaching fellows at the University of Waterloo recently began to address this issue by giving a workshop at a conference organized by the Science Teacher’s Association of Ontario (STAO).  During the workshop, entitled "Bridging the Gap: Helping Your Students Transition to University Science", the teaching fellows provided an overview of the major challenges faced by first-year Science students and their instructors at the University of Waterloo, and then engaged teachers in a discussion about strategies to help their students prepare for the differences they will encounter. In this panel discussion, the Science Faculty teaching fellows will share what they learned from this experience – and how it transformed their views – and invite participants to share their ideas on how best to "narrow the gap" between the high school and university academic experiences.

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Session 404 - WORKSHOP - Rethinking rubrics: Transforming rubrics to student centered learning

Gregory Andres, Lecturer, Philosophy
Emiko Yoshida, Lecturer, Social Development Studies,
Renison University College
Chao Yang, English Language Teaching Associate, Writing Centre, Student Success Office

There are good pedagogical reasons for using marking rubrics. In broad strokes, a good rubric will save the instructor time by acting as a mechanism for giving feedback. It will also reflect the assignment requirements and make specific components of the marking scheme visible to the student. (“Rubrics: Useful assessment tools,” n.d.)

A typical taxonomy of rubrics consists of two broad categories: holistic rubrics and analytic rubrics. Though many analytic and holistic rubrics are designed to evaluate an end product or the student’s performance, some are designed to answer the question, “to what extent are students who engage in our programs/services developing this skill/ability/value/etc.?” (“Types of Rubrics,” n.d.) These are called developmental rubrics.

Developmental rubrics are a step in the right direction, as they shift the focus from performance and end product onto the learning process itself. But to the extent that a rubric is teacher-centered, evaluation of the process will be done from the perspective of the instructor. This can get in the way of making learning visible to the student. Student-centred rubrics in contrast help students monitor their progress, become aware of their learning processes and learn how to take remedial steps towards a mastery of the subject matter (Andrade & Du, 2005). A good rubric should make learning process visible to the student. In this workshop, we will explore benefits and challenges of student-centred rubrics. After participating in this workshop, the participants will learn how to transform teacher-centred rubrics into student-centred rubrics, how people can use different rubrics for different learning activities, and how student-centred rubrics may facilitate students’ awareness of learning processes.


Andrade, H and Du, Y. (2005) Student Perspectives on Rubric-Referenced Assessment. Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation, 10 (3)

Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo. “Rubrics: Useful assessment tools.” (n.d.). 

“Types of Rubrics.” (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2015, from DePaul University Teaching Commons. 

Session 405 - PANEL - Making learning more visible: Reflections on the launch of the Supported Learning Groups (SLG) model at UW

Session Slides (PDF)

Session Authors and Panelists:
Heidi Engelhardt, Lecturer, Biology
Esther Lee, Undergraduate Student, Biology
Katie Damphouse, Success Coach, Student Success Office
Melissa Fritz, Data Analyst and Evaluation Specialist, Student Success Office
Mary Power, Faculty Liaison: Science, Centre for Teaching Excellence

The transition from high school to university leaves many students feeling overwhelmed and disengaged.  We are attempting to address these issues with a Supported Learning Groups (SLG) program for selected first-year courses.  Rather than identifying and ‘treating’ at-risk students, the SLG approach targets ‘gate-keeper’ courses.  Beginning in Fall 2013, SLG support was provided for two high enrolment (1,000+ students) first year courses (Biology 130 and Economics 101).

The model is based on regularly scheduled, informal sessions facilitated by ‘near peers’ who have recently taken the course.  SLG Leaders receive pre- and in-service training in collaborative learning strategies.  They are not intended to be authority figures; they do not evaluate students; they do not re-teach content.  Leaders attend the course lectures, modelling strong note-taking skills.  For the sessions, they create activities that encourage students to engage with course concepts and with each other.

Outcomes monitored include final grade, internal grade components, lecture attendance (based on clicker participation) and DFWs (final grades of 50-59%, less than 50% or WD, respectively),   a benchmark of SLG program of particular interest with respect to retention.  Qualitative feedback obtained via an exit survey provided a unique lens into the less-tangibly measured concepts of student engagement and development of skills transferable to other courses. This panel will bring together an instructor from each of the supported courses, two staff members from the Student Success Office (the Success Coach that coordinated Leader selection and training and the Data Analyst evaluating program efficacy), and a student participant from last fall.

The panelists will lead a discussion around:  how to adapt the model to different course structures, how to encourage participation of the students that need it most and how to evaluate efficacy of a program in which participants are self-selected.

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Session 406a - PRESENTATION - Exploring ethics and communication in a first year Engineering Biology course: A case-based debate approach

Session Slides (PDF)

Patrick Quinlan, Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering
Katharina Hassel, Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Christine Moresoli, Professor, Chemical Engineering

In engineering curriculum, students generally learn professional responsibility and ethical behaviour in courses exclusively devoted to these topics. Meanwhile, in their practice, engineers are asked to make connections between advancements in science and technology and the needs of society, as well as formulate opinions and make judgments based on ethical grounds. It is apparent that there exists a significant gap between the learning of ethics in the classroom and the application of ethics in the field. In this context, there are opportunities in technical courses to connect theory to real life situations and reduce the gap between curriculum and engineering practice.

To help address this disconnect, we have developed an ethics based case study in the first year Engineering Biology course of the Chemical Engineering program at University of Waterloo.
In this learning activity, a simulated advisory board was created during the weekly tutorial. Each week, an ethics topic related to a biotechnology was debated where a number of students were assigned to be the expert panel, leading the discussion, and the remaining students took on the role of an active audience. The responsibility of the instructor was to facilitate the discussion.

This exercise provided an opportunity for students to establish a sense of awareness as to the impact of engineering on society and the environment. It also created opportunities for students to practice and develop their communication skills.

In this presentation, we will comment on the successes and challenges faced in promoting student learning and fairness in a structured panel format learning activity. The importance of carefully designing assessment rubrics will also be discussed. Encouraging student participation while remaining fair to all students and the role of the instructor as a facilitator will also be reported.

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Session 406b - PRESENTATION - "I learned all that and it wasn't even on the exam": Making learning processes visible to ourselves for our students

Session Slides (PDF)

Jill Tomasson Goodwin, Associate Professor, Drama & Speech Communication
Katherine Lithgow, Senior Instructional Developer, Integrative Learning, Centre for Teaching Excellence

In a 2014 keynote address at Wilfrid Laurier University's “Engaged and Integrated Learning Conference”, Dr. Rob Shea argued that all graduating students should be able to publicly and professionally articulate their ‘graduation competencies’; that is, the ancillary processes by which students acquired their disciplinary knowledge, not the knowledge per se.

Expected by employers, and enshrined in such documents as universities’ Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations (UDLEs), these competencies are abstracted sets of capabilities that demonstrate the skills and knowledge underpinning how students learn in our classrooms, courses, and programs, competencies such as problem solving, communication and teamwork skills, the ability to critically evaluate information . However, Shea and others argue that few students can articulate these competencies to next-step stakeholders, such as employers or graduate school admission committees.

Clearly, as instructors, we are a key part of the solution to this problem. In this presentation, we will present a case study, focusing on the insights gained through practice, from both the instructor and student perspectives. Specifically, we will explain how we are designing – and ideally instilling – a set of practices that allow students to make their learning processes visible to themselves, with the goal of cultivating how they can identify their competencies as they complete course assignments; communicate what these competencies are and how they are instantiated in their coursework; and finally, translate this learning by explaining it to other important stakeholders.

Finally, we will offer a heuristic for articulating these imbedded learning processes to ourselves – the first step in making learning visible for our students- by considering: 

  • the instructional methods  we employ to help students achieve our course learning objectives
  • the competencies students might develop through our assignments
  • the extent to which our instructional methods help students achieve the UDLEs and how  we make this connection visible to our students.


Hart Research Associates (Association of American Colleges & Universities by Hart Research Associates). (2013).  It Takes more than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success. 

Hart Research Associates (Association of American Colleges & Universities by Hart Research Associates). (2015). Falling short? College learning and career success. 

Shea, Robert, “A National Call to Action: Do We Need a New Discourse on Learning?” Keynote Address, 8 May 2014, Wilfrid Laurier University. 

University of Waterloo. Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations.

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Session 407a - PRESENTATION - What in-depth writing analysis tells us: Feedback for educators and students alike

Session Slides (PDF)

Session Handouts 1 (PDF)

Session Handouts 2 (PDF)

Alice Schmidt Hanbidge, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Renison University College
Judi Jewinski, Special Advisor to the Vice-President, Provost’s Office

Karolina Korsak, Research Assistant and PhD Student, Sociology

While educators concur that writing and critical thinking are essential to effective professional practice, students still struggle with these skills. Alter and Adkins (2001) describe this deficiency as “a systemic problem". They suggest educators address it by emphasizing the writing process.  Thus, Renison’s School of Social Work has undertaken an extensive writing analysis project to motivate students to improve their communication skills while encouraging faculty to integrate writing strategies in the curriculum, link students with resources, and provide direct formative feedback.

The project objectives are to (a) promote writing as a core professional practice skill, (b) provide students with consistent and constructive feedback, and (c) produce graduates who are competent writers. Because writing is a concern for both teaching and learning, a concomitant objective is to provide faculty with practical resources, such as detailed rubrics, to help everyone focus on the skills for making communication simpler and clearer.  After two terms of assessment, both students and faculty members are clearly benefiting from the sharing of detailed results. Students who are not engaged with their assignments produce longer, more convoluted sentences, and students acknowledge that if they took the time to edit, their writing would be leaner and more specific. Preliminary project findings have also indicated a striking discrepancy between the results for a similar writing assignment across two sections. Faculty have attributed these to only one of the classes’ having a clear model and structure to follow. The lack of direction for the second class revealed itself in vague and wordy sentences, a strong motive for encouraging faculty to introduce their own rubrics.

In addition to introducing the electronic assessments which characterize individual results presenters will share strategies for applying best practices in writing across a curriculum to improve students’ skills and enhance deep student learning, whatever the discipline.


Alter, C., & Adkins, C. (2001). Improving the writing skills of social work students. Journal of Social Work Education, 37, 493–506.

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Session 407b - PRESENTATION - Making teaching and learning visible in Economics honours essay writing

Session Slides (PDF)

Trien Nguyen, Professor, Economics
Clare Bermingham, Manager, Writing Centre, Student Success Office

Amy Greene, English Language Teaching Associate, Writing Centre, Student Success Office
Sandra Keys, Liaison Librarian, Library

Honours Economics students at the University of Waterloo have to take ECON 472 (Honours Economics Essays) in the fourth year of their program. They write a paper under faculty supervision and work exclusively with their supervisor who reads their paper and submits marks to the department. This one-on-one closed system is not transparent as little is known about the student or learning outcome from this capstone experience.

To address this problem, we introduce a hybrid teaching and learning environment which combines the key elements of interactive classroom and individual supervision. In the presentation, we explain the six integrated components of our hybrid system, namely, (1) the course instructor in charge of day-to-day class activities; (2) the supervisor in charge of individual supervision as before; (3) the classmates providing interactive peer reviews and cooperation; (4) the librarian providing research support in library resources, data, and references; (5) the Writing Centre providing support in writing skill development; (6) and the CTE providing support in plagiarism detection tools (Turnitin) for academic integrity development.

Unlike the traditional lecture-based classroom in which students compete with each other, this hybrid system eases students into a non-threatening learning environment in which they participate in discussions, exchange, and peer reviews. This helps them open up so we can learn more about their background (what they have known), progress (what they are learning), and accomplishments (what they have learned).

The presentation is relevant and appealing to the participants across disciplines as the hybrid concept is generally applicable to subjects other than economics. The presentation also contributes to the recent literature of curriculum reform to help students learn to “do economics” and skill developments through writing and research-oriented activities (McGoldrick, 2008; Colander & McGoldrick, 2009; Sizemore & Greenlaw, 2012).


Colander, D., & McGoldrick, K. (Eds.) (2009). Educating economists. The Tealgle discussion on re-evaluating the undergraduate economics majors. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

McGoldrick, K. (2008). Writing requirements and economic research opportunities in the undergraduate curriculum: Results from a survey of departmental practices, The Journal of Economic Education, 39:3, 287-296, DOI: 10.3200/JECE.39.3.287-296

Sizemore, E., & Greenlaw, S. A. (2012). Writing for learning in economics. In G. M. Hoyt, & K. McGoldrick (Eds.), International handbook on teaching and learning economics (pp. 137-146). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

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