Centre for Teaching and Learning

Centre for Teaching and Learning
Centre for Teaching and Learning

Morning Session Descriptions | 8:45am - 12:00pm

Afternoon Session Descriptions

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A: Developing Skills and Strategies


Developing Experimental Design Skills: Julia Child or Mission Impossible? | Alastair McLean, Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy, Queen's University; Bei Cai, Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy; Lindsay Mainhood, Faculty of Education

There is increasing awareness of the importance of the laboratory experience in physics instruction. In confirmation-inquiry labs, student experience is reduced to merely following prescribed instructions. The educational trend is to provide guided-inquiry labs, experiences in which students are given opportunities to design their own experimental procedures. In this talk, we will show a new high-quality mechanical oscillator experiment that we've designed to allow students to develop their design skills in our second-year physics lab course. We will also show how we've been measuring the effectiveness of our lab redesign effort. We will report our findings from our lab observation data using LOPUS, E-CLASS attitude survey, and qualitative analysis of transcribed audio recordings of student lab sessions.


Teaching Skills to First-Year Law Students: Challenges and Successes | Hugo Choquette, Faculty of Law

LAW 135 is a required first-year course for Queen’s law students. The course introduces students to basic legal reasoning, research and writing skills and provides opportunities for students to practise those skills in a low-stakes, constructive environment. In its initial format, the course was taught by four instructors, each with their own experience and vision, which led to discrepancies in delivery and assessments. Students requested a common experience for all first-year students with a focus on skills and materials necessary for them to succeed in their program.  In 2018-19, LAW 135 was redesigned as a blended course that centred on purposeful assignments with opportunities to receive feedback in an iterative process. Online materials included live-action video, plenaries were delivered by high-interest guest speakers, and tutorials were led by legal practitioners as Academic Assistants.   Student feedback will inform the next iteration of the course where we plan to focus on fine-tuning assessment timelines and improving consistency among Academic Assistants.


Culture of Learning Initiative in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies | Anna Walczak and Jacob Bonafiglia, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies

The School of Kinesiology and Health studies has recently undertaken an initiative in an attempt to improve the culture of learning in our undergraduate programs. This initiative has two main branches: a student-focused and an instructor-focused branch. In brief, the student-focused branch involved creating infographics that illustrate evidence-based best practices of student behaviour (e.g. writing notes instead of highlighting), and subsequently presenting these infographics on our School's televisions, in lectures, and in our weekly newsletter. The instructor-centered branch involved providing brief presentations to the School's faculty during monthly meetings. These presentations aimed to present instructors with evidence-based teaching and learning best practices (e.g. peer instruction). Faculty and instructors were then given the opportunity to learn more about these practices and discuss opportunities to implement them into their courses. Our presentation will explain our initiative in more detail.


The Art of Romance | Emma Peacocke, Department of English Language and Literature; Heather Parker, Agnes Etherington Art Centre

When students register for Romantic Literature, they don’t all have the same intuitive sense of the age of Jane Austen. Reading a text in isolation is often an insufficient way to understand it, so Emma incorporates field trips into her teaching. Universities often have wonderful art collections which their students (and even some faculty!) never visit. Agnes is a treasure trove for teaching in any discipline. At Agnes, Heather uses art from the collection to teach Visual Thinking Strategies, a method of developing measurable increases in visual analysis and empathy. On a worksheet to assess students’ learning one student wrote that this field trip has been one of their most memorable learning experiences at Queen’s. Visiting Agnes provides the most powerful way for students to experience the Romantic past, To be in the presence of centuries-old paintings links what students understand intellectually with a more emotional response of awe, captivation, and delight.


Analyzing Popular Music Charts for Gender and Race Representation: What can Internet chatter tell us about cultural messaging? | Robbie MacKay, Dan School of Drama & Music

Students in my first year Social History of Popular Music use primarily non-academic, popular websites to gather biographical data on performers from a Billboard Top 100 music chart to identify trends in popular music production. My presentation will focus on the validity of this type of research in terms of gathering viable research data and on the possibilities this type of assignment offers for examining public opinion and cultural construction. I suspect that there is some transferability to other disciplines in which public opinion is a concern.

B: Supporting Student Engagement


Making Pre-Class Readings into a Community Learning Experience | James Fraser, Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

We love student-focused active learning in the classroom, but it often relies on moving content delivery to preclass readings or videos. Students are busy and there is always another reddit post to vote on a key challenge is to encourage them to apply themselves to the prep work. In PHYS P22, we make use of Perusall, a (free) online platform that allows students to read and annotate a pdf, and read each others comments. The platform turns the reading assignment into a community learning experience with students answering each other’s questions and upvoting each other’s comments and answers. In a recent 12-page reading assignment, students spent an average of 1.8 hrs active reading. 


Development of a New Field Exercise for Experiential Learning in Coastal Engineering | Ryan Mulligan, Civil Engineering

In a 4th-year civil engineering course, a new exercise was developed to give students the opportunity for a hands-on experience in the field. The new field exercise consisted of detailed wave measurements surrounding a newly designed coastal structure on Lake Ontario, with the goal of improving education by putting student engineering design skills into a real-world learning environment. In groups, the students investigated the site and weather conditions, deployed pressure sensors to measure surface waves and performed analysis of the data to determine the effectiveness of this structure in reducing waves that approach the gravel beach. The students compared the field observations of waves during a storm with the results of both predictive wave hindcast equations and a numerical wave model, and submitted consulting reports on the performance of the structure. The reports required the student to integrate and critically assess the data and model results acquired from different sources and were evaluated using a rubric designed to assess cognitive and communication skills.


Could you repeat that? How to Correct Mistakes in the Speech of Student Language Learners | Michael Reyes, French Studies

The introductory course in the Department of French Studies uses fourth-year undergraduate teaching assistants (UTAs) to provide first-year students with speaking practice in small group tutorials.  In recent years, however, students have expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of feedback that they received on speaking from their UTA.  In order to remedy this problem, my assistant and I looked at existing research into the effectiveness of different strategies for providing corrective feedback to students.  Armed with this information, we then trained UTAs in best practices for providing feedback supported by this literature.  To conclude our brief study, and to test the effectiveness of our intervention, we measured student perceptions of feedback they received from their UTA and changes in student oral proficiency.


Freedom and Flexibility in a Final Project: The Unessay | Kate Rowbotham and Scott Whetstone, Smith School of Business

The unessay was developed by Daniel Paul O’Donnell as a way to move beyond the constraints of a traditional essay in order to allow students to focus on what interests and excites them (both in terms of content as well as format).  In our presentation, we will discuss using the unessay as the final project in COMM 251, which is the introductory organizational behaviour course offered to non-Commerce students.  We will highlight how students engaged with the assignment, along with the variety of topics and formats used.  We will also discuss the challenges of an assignment like this, for students and faculty alike.  The unessay was used in the online section of COMM 251 for the first time in the winter of 2019, and while we are excited about the possibilities it presents, we welcome feedback on how it could be further developed.


The Possible Learning and Teaching Benefits of Short Mind-Calming Exercises in Undergraduate Courses | Paul Grogan, Department of Biology

I will report the results of three separate investigations of student perceptions on the impacts of doing a regular short mind-calming exercise at the beginning of every session in: a) a large third year, full semester, undergraduate ecology course; b) a very large second year half semester biodiversity course: and c) a small fourth year full semester seminar course. Voluntary anonymous online surveys were completed by ~2/3rds of the students. >93% of respondents indicated that the exercise was ‘enjoyable and relaxing’ >89% indicated that they ‘looked forward’ to each session; >73% indicated that the exercise was ‘valuable use of lecture time because I feel it enhances deep learning’; and >75% found it a useful perspective ’to achieving balance/calm in my life’. Finally, my overall USAT teaching performance was significantly elevated in the year with the mind-calming exercises compared to the previous nine iterations in which I have been involved.  The significance of these results will be discussed.


From the Bay City Rollers to One Direction: Using the “Reverse ICE” Approach in a Gender and Popular Music Seminar | Kip Pegley, Dan School of Music

Because students frequently fall prey to the “progress narrative” of historical development and intellectual thought, they often undervalue pivotal publications from the late 20th century. For instance, in my gender and popular music seminar I frequently hear them say at the outset of the course that our understandings of sex and gender have advanced so dramatically over the last 20 years that we can no longer benefit from readings dating from the last century. In this presentation I use Simon Frith and Angela’s McRobbie’s article ‘Rock and Sexuality’ (1978) to explore how the ‘Reverse ICE’ can help students awaken to the trappings of this narrative and expand their appreciation for seminal articles that have shaped the field. 

Afternoon Session Descriptions