[Live webinar] AI-Driven Transformation: Personalizing Online and Hybrid Learning for Student Success
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Developing lifelong skills with active learning design

Nhi Nguyen
|
October 17, 2023
DOMAIN
Medicine
Class Size
> 400
Instructor Workload
Learner Workload
ABOUT THE INSTITUTION

The Texas A&M University School of Public Health is committed to transforming health through interdisciplinary inquiry, innovative solutions, and the development of leaders through the Aggie tradition of service to engage diverse communities worldwide. Founded in 1998 as the first public health school in the nation with a focus on rural and underserved communities, the School of Public Health developed into a nationally ranked, fully accredited public health academic, research, and service program

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR(S)

Patricia Luna is the Director of Academic Technology at Texas A&M University School of Public Health. Here she is responsible for building a vision and strategic plan for ongoing faculty development and student success in technology-enhanced pedagogy. She also designs and deploys systems to support the integration of technology resources in learning, teaching, and research activities, at the same time facilitating faculty technology development and support distance learning needs of the University community.

ABOUT THE INSTITUTION

The Texas A&M University School of Public Health is committed to transforming health through interdisciplinary inquiry, innovative solutions, and the development of leaders through the Aggie tradition of service to engage diverse communities worldwide. Founded in 1998 as the first public health school in the nation with a focus on rural and underserved communities, the School of Public Health developed into a nationally ranked, fully accredited public health academic, research, and service program

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR(S)

Patricia Luna is the Director of Academic Technology at Texas A&M University School of Public Health. Here she is responsible for building a vision and strategic plan for ongoing faculty development and student success in technology-enhanced pedagogy. She also designs and deploys systems to support the integration of technology resources in learning, teaching, and research activities, at the same time facilitating faculty technology development and support distance learning needs of the University community.

Context

After a successful pilot, the Texas A&M University School of Public Health decided to embark on a campus-wide adoption of the FeedbackFruits tool suite to enhance student engagement and implement authentic assessment.

Here is the story of how the university utilized FeedbackFruits’ solutions to stimulate active learning, skills development, and lifelong learning, and what encouraged them to let FeedbackFruits be a supporter in achieving their pedagogical goals.

Constructive alignment

Adapting assessment in the age of AI at Texas A&M University School of Public Health 

With over 3,000 students of different levels, the Texas A&M School of Public Health has been dedicated to transforming public health through interdisciplinary inquiry, innovative solutions, and development of leaders through the Aggie tradition of service to engage diverse communities worldwide. The school offers bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees as well as an Executive Master of Health Administration program. 

At the School of Public Health, there has been a long-standing recognition of, and need for authentic assessment due to its great potential in cultivating a personalized, inclusive learning environment that nurtures real-life skills and student autonomy. With the rise of AI and mixed modality education, it has become more critical for the institution to implement this approach to maintain academic integrity. 

To provide an authentic education that stimulates engagement and transfer of skills for a large number of students from diverse backgrounds, preferences, and domains, the School of Public Health has been actively seeking the appropriate technology that supports the implementation of authentic assessment. FeedbackFruits tool suite was then chosen due to its capacity to set up consistent evaluation rubrics, streamline peer/ group assessment in different modalities, and maintain oversight of student progress. As commented by Patricia Luna, Director of Academic Technology at Texas A&M University School of Public Health: 

“FeedbackFruits has unique tools, that’s why we choose them to help us elevate the teaching and learning experience at the School of Public Health… FeedbackFruits is the only company that has a TBL tool that integrates with Canvas and that makes a lot of difference because we just want to make things easier for faculty to sync groups with just one click.”

To gauge the impact of FeedbackFruits solutions, TAMU Health decided to enter into a pilot adoption over the Spring 2023 semester, which involved stakeholders from all Health Science Center (HSC) schools (Public Health, Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Medicine), and the Office of Interprofessional Education (IPE).

Throughout the pilot, 87 learning activities were created, along with 8 successful online Interprofessional Education (IPE) modules issued among more than 400 students. A total of 1331 unique students actively used FeedbackFruits who delivered more than 15,000 review comments and over 66,000 ratings to their peers. 

To further gauge the impact of FeedbackFruits, Patricia launched a survey asking faculty and students how they felt about using FeedbackFruits. Most of the faculty members stated that the tools helped save them plenty of time in setting up and were easy to use: 

“Feedback Fruits saved hours of work, setting up the assignment was fast and grading was even faster. In just minutes, the tool was able to calculate the group project score along with the group member evaluation, which was done in a spreadsheet in the past semesters.”

The students also demonstrated high satisfaction with FeedbackFruits activities. 80% of the surveyed students were satisfied with participating in the peer feedback activities issued by FeedbackFruits. Several factors were said to constitute these pleasant experiences, including the opportunity to exchange feedback and develop critical reflection skills.

“I enjoyed the various learning methods…and I feel these learning experiences will certainly help me in my professional career.” – Student response

So what made this adoption a success? In the next section, we will share 5 stories of how different faculty members at TAMU Health innovatively leveraged different FeedbackFruits tools to enhance engagement and nurture real-life skills like feedback, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. 

How TAMU Health implemented effective authentic assessment with FeedbackFruits

Use case 1: Critical writing in Public Health (PHEO 650)

For a writing assignment in a Public Health course, the instructor wanted to promote critical thinking and academic writing skills with peer feedback and personalized recommendations. With the help of FeedbackFruits Peer Review and Automated Feedback, the instructor came up with an activity design that allowed students to achieve the desired learning goals. Below is a breakdown of the writing process: 

Step 1: Students worked on the first draft and submitted it to Automated Feedback

Step 2: The Automated Feedback tool parsed the writing drafts and provided instant feedback on grammar, structure, citation, and such based on instructor-defined criteria. 

Step 3: Students then entered the peer review process facilitated within the Peer Review tool, where they critically reflected and provided comments on peers’ work and, at the same time learned from each other. 

Step 4: Based on the feedback received in the previous steps, students improved their writing and submitted a final product. 

The use of FeedbackFruits solutions saves instructors significant time in designing and facilitating the activity, especially in terms of rubric design and personalized feedback delivery. 

While Peer Review allows for configuring the feedback rubric from a library of existing templates, the Automated Feedback tool lets the instructor choose from a set of more than 30 writing criteria to check students’ writing plus automatically generates feedback on these criteria. According to Patricia, students very much enjoyed the use of Automated Feedback since they could receive instant, individualized feedback on their writing: 

“We have a lot of international students and they were very grateful that they were using these tools. It gave them a lot of feedback, to review citation styles.”

By the end of the assignment, significant improvements could be observed in students’ final submissions compared with the first drafts, especially in terms of the writing structure and information presentation. This positive change is visualized through the FeedbackFruits analytics dashboard, which allows instructors to easily observe students’ performance and progress throughout the learning process. 

Image showing student results from the Peer Review activity
Student results from the Peer Review activity

Image showing student results on their final submissions are graded by the teacher
Student results on their final submissions are graded by the teacher

Use case 2: Digitalize Team-based learning for an online IPE course

The IPE courses, delivered by 70 faculty facilitators, bring together over 400 students of the 5 schools across all disciplines to develop collaboration and communication skills for their future careers. To achieve this goal, the team-based learning (TBL) approach was utilized due to its proven benefits in enhancing teamwork and problem-solving within a diverse group. 

The IPE courses were facilitated entirely online with a synchronous Zoom session. In fact, facilitating an entire online TBL course is challenging, especially when it comes to engaging a large student cohort in different steps of the activity from preparation, iRAT, tRAT, application, and discussion, to peer evaluation. 

To address this challenge, the teaching team at TAMU integrated several FeedbackFruits tools to enhance each phase of the TBL process:

  • Interactive Study Materials tool to get students to prepare for the individual and group quizzes actively
  • Team Based Learning tool to design and facilitate the iRAT and tRAT step
  • Discussion on Work tool to organize an open forum where groups showcase their solutions to the application problem and exchange comments
  • Group Member Evaluation tool to implement the peer evaluation step in which students evaluate their group members’ contribution and performance

A complete team-based learning activity supported by FeedbackFruits tools
A complete team-based learning activity supported by FeedbackFruits tools

Using multiple tools in one activity can be an arduous task for instructors, but not so with FeedbackFruits according to Patricia: 

“All the tools have a similar user experience. Once you are familiar with one assignment, the rest of the tools have the same layout. It is very easy for faculty and students to set up and complete the FeedbackFruits activities.”

By using FeedbackFruits, instructors could “save a lot of time to focus on writing, research, and other tasks”. They no longer had to manually grade the iRAT and tRAT and then enter the results onto spreadsheets, FeedbackFruits automatically scored the quizzes and synced the grades with the Canvas Gradebook. Faculty members who used Team Based Learning also valued how the tool helped stimulate meaningful interactions among students:

“It [Team Based Learning Tool) gets the conversation going, and gives the student the areas where they would need to think and talk about. The iRAT and tRAT helped a lot!” 

Furthermore, Patricia praised how Group Member Evaluation helped promote accountability and critical reflection among the students. She also enjoyed that faculty members could access detailed analytics showing students’ reviews and identifying outliers – students with poor group contributions. 

Use case 3: Promote asynchronous engagement in the Global Environment Health course

For authentic projects like case studies, research reports, and such, students need to study, analyze, and reflect on different materials to be able to solve a presented problem. However, students often feel unmotivated to engage in the preparation stage and end up under-prepared for the application assignment. One of the main reasons for this disengagement is that students find the content not accessible and inclusive to their socioeconomic backgrounds and learning preferences. 

To address this issue, instructors at TAMU Health adopted social annotation and multimodal content with the help of FeedbackFruits Interactive Document and Interactive Video to stimulate meaningful conversations, asynchronous engagement, accessibility, and deeper learning. 

Within the tools, instructors uploaded videos or reading materials and enriched them with questions and discussion points. Students were encouraged to carefully study and respond to the annotated questions and, at the same time, pose their own queries to instructors and their peers. This resulted in two-way communication in which students could benefit from exchanging and accessing diverse perspectives. To further increase engagement, the instructor added a participation grading component for the interactive materials activities. 

 

Students actively asked questions and engaged in discussion in the Interactive Document tool
Students actively asked questions and engaged in discussion in the Interactive Document tool

The progress bar shows how far students have completed the content engagement activity
The progress bar shows how far students have completed the content engagement activity

The interactive materials activities were a success, with 713 participants giving 1773 comments. This indicates a significant level of engagement and interaction during the assignment. Patricia attributed such enhanced engagement to the ability to have the discussion directly within the study materials: 

“The reading and discussion were in one place, so students didn’t have to go read the article in a separate platform and then go back to the discussion. This is good for online students because they feel like they are interacting with their peers even though they don’t know each other.”

Use case 4: Provide personalized and skills-oriented feedback in a Risk Management course

One critical element of authentic assessment is to provide continuous, personalized feedback to help students develop skills. 

Instructors at TAMU Health had been using SpeedGrader to support the process of evaluating and reviewing students’ assignments; however, it was not really helpful. Patricia said: 

“Every annotation that the instructor  makes on SpeedGrader would trigger a notification for the students.”

That’s why faculty members switched to the FeedbackFruits Assignment Review and Skill Review tool to deliver personalized, competency-focused feedback to students, due to its many feedback features namely: simplified and time-saving grading module, ability to provide in-line feedback with rubric criterion, reuse of feedback, and assigning points for reading received feedback. 

The instructors especially valued the capacity to give students feedback based on a detailed rubric. According to Patricia, 

“When you give feedback, everything that you review ties in with the feedback rubric. That was very powerful for the faculty.” 

Instructors provide in-line feedback to students based on a set of criteria in Assignment Review
Instructors provide in-line feedback to students based on a set of criteria in Assignment Review

Image showing instructors can assign points to students for reading feedback in Peer Review tool
Encourage students to read the feedback by assigning points

Use case 5: Nurture problem-solving skills with real-world scenarios in IPE courses

Real-life projects or scenarios that require students to come up with solutions are perfect ways to help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving. 

For a course on Ethics in Health Profession, the instructor applied the same approach, by issuing a case study assignment, in which students were asked to submit a video showcasing their solutions to the issue presented in the case. 

Peer Review was used instead of Canvas native features to review the submissions since the tool allows instructors and students to give feedback on specific sections and associate the comments with the feedback rubric. 

Not only were students able to practice demonstrating their learned knowledge and skills, but they also became familiar with the process of feedback delivery, which is something that they need to do in their future work. 

Students providing feedback on video submissions of peers in Interactive Video tool
Students providing feedback on video submissions of peers in Interactive Video tool

Towards long-term partnership: Adopting FeedbackFruits throughout the entire campus

Following the successful pilot, the Texas A&M University of Public Health decided to enter into a full partnership with FeedbackFruits. 

What impressed the TAMU Health team about FeedbackFruits was the decrease in teacher workload and increase in efficiency. The FeedbackFruits tools’ abundant features enable the automation of numerous labor-intensive steps in setting up peer review and group activities, which is often a missing factor in native Canvas tools. From writing instructions, assigning peer reviewers, and allocating groups, to designing feedback rubrics, all can be easily done within FeedbackFruits, sparing faculty plenty of time to focus on more important aspects such as teaching, and analytics. Furthermore, smooth LTI 1.3 Advantage and API integrations inside Canvas allow for single sign-on, automatic synchronization of groups, grades, and deadlines with native grade books and calendars, saving time manually generating new groups, exporting and uploading grades, or reassigning assignment deadlines. FeedbackFruits also offers a copy-from-existing feature for new courses, access to activity templates from centralized libraries, and many more time-saving features. One faculty member commented: 

“FeedbackFruits was much easier to understand and use than other previous software, which was extremely complicated, confusing, and frustrating.”

The upcoming fall and spring semesters will be crucial for the School of Public Health to experiment with novel pedagogical approaches using FeedbackFruits tools. 

We at FeedbackFruits are honored to be a collaborative partner of TAMU Health, a group of schools that supports instructors in innovating pedagogy and reaching their educational goals. We expect great outcomes from this partnership and are eager to keep contributing to the institution’s mission. 

Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us, Patricia. We very much loved learning about your thoughtful perspectives on lifelong skills, along with your deep insights on technology evaluation and adoption.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Notable outcomes

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Recommended use cases

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Texas A&M University School of Public Health decided on a campus-wide adoption of the FeedbackFruits tool suite to enhance student engagement and implement authentic assessment.

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