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Blog 237

Blog 237

Exploring Your Burning Teaching and Learning Questions

By Tanveer Bhimani, Anne MacLennan, Celia Popovic, Michelle Sengara

At our 2023 Teaching in Focus (TiF) conference, the closing plenary explored a series of burning teaching and learning questions submitted by our participants. Read on to learn more about discussions of assessment, artificial intelligence, student engagement, and supporting the balance of innovation and faculty burnout.

How might we design assessments that can help students best share their learning while also making marking and grading more manageable? (response from Tanveer Bhimani, Lassonde)

As humans, we learn content best when we have to teach it to someone. Designing assessments where students need to interact with their peers will automatically yield better learning experiences. To make grading manageable especially in large courses, use Peer Assessments when assessing for learning. This gives your student opportunities to learn by sharing and reviewing their peers work. Build your classroom learning community by setting up a course portfolio where you post exceptional student works. Set-up Group Assignments and get familiar with eClass tools such as audio/video feedback or create a feedback comments bank. Lastly, use Rubrics for grading. You can build rubrics right into your assessments in eClass and providing these to your students ahead of time will help clarify expectations and simplify grading and feedback.

How do we continue to promote academic integrity given the increasing prominence of AI and other technologies?  (response from Michelle Sengara, Office of the AVP T&L)

It's important first to consider the shifting context of education. Living in a world where technology is no longer separate from things like healthcare, dating, or education, we have to find a way to re-frame the value proposition of teaching and learning in higher education. What are we really here to teach students? What do they really want to learn? In my opinion, this starts by re-imaging our definitions and measurements of ‘SUCCESS’. By promoting more skills-based learning outcomes, for example, can we start to see AI-generated text or images as complimentary components in the learning process, while not embodying the learning itself?

How can we promote student engagement in our classes and with our course content when getting students to engage can feel particularly challenging? (response from Celia Popovic, Education)

I asked ChatGPT that very question and was rewarded with 5 ideas: Use interactive teaching methods; use technology; encourage active learning; foster a sense of community; and provide regular feedback. I was advised to “remember that every student is different and what works for one student may not work for another”.

Thank you Chat GPT! My point in sharing this is that student engagement in classes whether online or in person is not a new problem. We have many solutions – tried and tested. Yet we still have the problem. Just as every student is different, so too is every instructor. This works for me, but may not for you! But this is what I would add:

Make connections for students to help them see the relevance

Adopt Universal Design for Learning principles.

Share readings among students, require them to teach the salient points to each other

But in the end – it is up to the students how they wish to engage and my way (or your way) may not be theirs.

How we can we support each other in trying new things or exploring new pedagogical strategies in the classroom while also working to mitigate burnout? (response from Anne MacLennan, LA&PS)

We can support each other in exploring new pedagogical strategies in the classroom by attending conferences like Teaching in Focus in and outside of York University. They are wonderful ways to find out about new pedagogical strategies without risk. The exchange of ideas is exciting. Having a look at how someone else employed new software or sites really sparks new ideas! In terms of mitigating burnout, the best way is to remember that the faculty and students are each on their own journey. You should be happy about new ideas, techniques, sites, and software but remember that you don’t have to use them all.

About the Authors

Tanveer Bhimani is an Instructional and Learning Designer at Lassonde. She is passionate about teaching and learning and partners with faculty members to create comprehensive and engaging learning experiences for students at Lassonde.

Anne F. MacLennan is an Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies, York University and past Graduate Program Director of the Graduate Program in Communication and Culture. She co-authored Seeing, Selling, and Situating Radio in Canada, 1922-1956 with Michael Windover; is completing an SSHRC Insight Grant, “Programming, practices, production and policy: Canadian community radio” with Katie Moylan; and starting a SSHRC Insight Grant with Irena Knezevic, “The role of entertainment media in the persistence of Canadian and American poverty.” She received the Faculty of Graduate Studies, Faculty Teaching Award, 2023; 2022 Excellence in Teaching Award (faculty); and University-Wide Teaching Award 2006. 

Celia Popovic is Associate Professor, Teaching Stream in the Faculty of Education. She joined York in 2011 and was the inaugural Director of the Teaching Commons for 7 years.

Michelle Sengara is the Director of Academic Innovation at York University. She is also an accomplished education strategist and consultant. Michelle is at the forefront of technology-enhanced education, contributing to the research and design of systems for innovation that seek to re-imagine teaching and learning as a dynamic network of interactions that contribute to the development of our innately human capacity for resilience and agility.

Tanveer Bhimani
Celia Popovic
Tanveer Bhimani
Anne MacLennan
Celia Popovic
Michelle Sengara