November 2017 | View the web version of this newsletter

How one professor uses tests to help his students learn

Mark Blair

Psychology professor Mark Blair frequently tries new things to improve student learning in his cognitive sciences Breadth course. This semester he implemented mastery grading, an approach that uses assessment as a learning tool. His students write tests in almost every class and use the results to identify problem areas for follow-up. Then they write the tests again (with questions randomly selected from a question bank) as many times as necessary to achieve a grade of 90 percent. The results have been dramatic: “I can tell you for certain that in 12 years of teaching this course I have never had a group attain that level of understanding.” Read an account of his experience.

From Scantron to Remark: The answer sheets are changing

Everyone knows those “fill in the bubble” answer sheets often used for exams, evaluations and other forms of data collection. This year, SFU Document Solutions began implementing a system called Remark Office OMR to replace the Scantron system previously used at SFU to read and report results. For academic departments, one consequence is that the old Scantron forms will be phased out in favour of a new general-purpose answer sheet by April 2018. This semester, either form may still be used for tests and exams, but Document Solutions emphasizes that departments should not mix old and new forms. Read more about the transition.

What’s going on in the classroom beside you?

Zahia Marzouk

Shiva Hajian (Education) will demonstrate a visualization tool that helps her students acquire argumentation skills. Atousa Hajshirmohammadi (Engineering Science) will showcase the interactive quizzes she created in Canvas. Mladen Rakovic and Zahia Marzouk (right), both from the Faculty of Education, will present research revealing what kinds of student posts trigger more responses from peers in online discussions. Their learning solutions will be featured at DEMOfest 2017, SFU’s annual showcase of teaching tools, techniques and technologies on November 28 in the Halpern Centre. Titles and descriptions of the 14 presentations and 26 exhibits, many of which focus on assessment, have just been posted. Take a look at the program schedule.

Don’t miss these events!

THE BIG EVENT: DEMOfest 2017 (November 28) is SFU’s free annual showcase for teaching and learning solutions. See what your colleagues are doing in the classroom. HIGH DEMAND: A second offering of Screencasting and Video Editing: A Simple Way to Create Engaging Videos has been added on December 7. SPRING AHEAD: We have started to post Spring 2018 events—check out the sidebar. EYE-OPENING: The Centre for English Language Learning, Teaching and Research (CELLTR) will host a lunchtime session on the English language–learning experiences of 10 Chinese international students on November 22. SFU’s Vancouver campus is hosting an activity-filled Open Learning Week from November 15–21.

This month in pictures

Robyn Schell John Yang Jody Baker Photo gallery: A look back at DEMOfest 2016 >>

Bonus Points Challenge. Win a $10 cash card!

The SFU Library branches in Burnaby, Surrey and Vancouver are named, respectively:

a. Bennett/Belzberg/Fraser    b. Belzberg/Bennett/Fraser    c. Fraser/Belzberg/Bennett    d. Bennett/Fraser/Belzberg

SUBMIT YOUR ANSWER by November 20 for a chance to win a $10 Starbucks Coffee card. Congratulations to Kristina Harvey, winner of last month’s challenge. The correct answer to last month's question was fruit.


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View all scheduled events


Jan 19 Application deadline | February Instructional Skills Workshop (Feb 14–16, 2018)
Feb 9 Application deadline | Your Teaching Dossier/Portfolio: A S.M.A.R.T. Approach for SFU Faculty (Feb 23, Mar 9 & 23, 2018)


Teaching Practice

Teaching Matters Seminar Series | Nov 27 | Details

Bring Your Self to Work Dialogues | Dec 4 | Details

SCHEDULE POSTED! Spring 2018 TA/TM Day | Jan 5, 2018 | Details

NEW! Instructional Skills Workshop | Feb 14–16, 2018 | Details

Your Teaching Dossier/Portfolio: A S.M.A.R.T. Approach for SFU Faculty | Feb 23, Mar 9 & 23, 2018 | Details

NEW! Teaching Dossiers for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows | Mar 6, 2018 | Details

Rethinking Teaching: A Four-day Course Design Workshop for Faculty | Apr 26–27, Apr 30–May 1, 2018 | Details

Technology & Media

Canvas Training and Consultations | By appointment |

Designing for the Blended Learning Experience | Upon request | Details

DEMOfest 2017: The Art of Assessment | Nov 28 | Details

DATE ADDED! Screencasting and Video Editing: A Simple Way to Create Engaging Videos | Nov 30 (full) | Dec 7 | Details

Voice & Presentation Skills

Private Voice Sessions | Sep 18–Dec 4 | By appointment | Details

NEW! Breath Power, Posture and Pauses: Your Secret Allies for Public Speaking | Feb 22, 2018 | Details

NEW! Expressive Speech: Vocal Dynamism in the Classroom | Mar 8, 2018 | Details

NEW! Better Presentations: Building Confidence and Connections | Mar 22, 2018 | Details

Click to find out how the Teaching and Learning Centre can support your work

Course and curriculum planning    |    Canvas and learning technology support    |    Educational media creation and training    |    Workshops and programs    |    Voice and presentation skills    |    Teaching practice and discipline-specific consulting | 778.782.3910 | Education Building, EDB 7560 | TLC on Twitter | Teaching and Learning News blog