Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation

130 St. George Street, Robarts Library, 4th floor

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Symposium Express: Research on Teaching and Learning II

April 24, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


April 24, 2017
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Symposium Express workshops feature facilitators from the 10th Annual Teaching & Learning Symposium. This series spotlights sessions run at the Symposium, allowing our community to attend and engage with sessions they may have missed on the day.

Diane Horton, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Computer Science (presenting)
Daniel Zingaro, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Mathematical and Computational Sciences, UTM (presenting)

Michelle Craig, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Computer Science
Danny Heap, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Computer Science
Ben Stephenson, Senior Instructor, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary

Recent discussion in the scholarship of teaching and learning community has advocated using exam wrappers to improve students’ reflection on their learning. An exam wrapper is a short handout that accompanies a marked test when the test is returned to the student. Students submit answers to wrapper questions about study skills, course concepts or test performance; such questions can even be customized to reflect an individual student’s test errors.

In this talk, we will discuss three research studies on the use of wrappers in first-year computer science courses. In our first study at the University of Toronto, we compared three wrapper styles and did not find significant differential impact on exam scores. We did find improved test pickup rates, correlation between test pickup and exam performance, and qualitative evidence that students successfully reflect on past behaviour and recognize effective study strategies. Such results are corroborated by a second study at University of Toronto using an improved control-group design, and a study at University of Calgary using random assignment.

Charly Bank, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Earth Sciences

Geoethics is a new field within Earth science; prompted by increased scrutiny of scientists’ and companies’ actions that impact on society’s well-being as they relate to cities, groundwater, natural disasters, and climate change. The geoscience teaching community has developed teaching material (see, for example, Mogk, 2016); however, at this point there are no studies measuring the effectiveness of such material. Yacobucci (2013) presents a rationale as well as strategies to engage students in values-building activities suitable for an Earth science course with small (22 student) labs. My study tests an approach more suitable for a large (n=300 students) lecture-based course aimed at non-science students.

My hypothesis is that although I am unable to assess my students’ morals I can assess their critical thinking around decision-making. Moreover, the process of ethical-decision making mirrors the research process, and from this I have developed questions that allow me to assess student learning about geoethics. My study frames instruction in a large distribution geoscience course currently taught by a senior graduate student in the UofT Department of Earth Sciences. The instruction includes one tutorial and one poster session where students learn the science of common natural disasters (eg, flooding), discuss viewpoints of various stakeholder groups (e.g. affected community, insurance companies, and politicians), and have to decide on an ethical issue that minimizes the overall harm (e.g. do we allow homeowners to rebuild after a flood). The study consists of voluntary online pre- and post-instruction questionnaires that aim to measure student attitudes towards geoethics. Rubrics developed to grade a non-voluntary but anonymous exam question that will allow me to gauge if students have learned to apply the tools we introduced with the tutorial and poster.



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Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A5
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